Where Nutrients Are Absorbed In The Gut
The absorption of nutrients depends on a type of protein called an enzyme. There are several different enzymes in the human body, generally falling into three types: Food Enzymes, Digestive Enzymes and Metabolic Enzymes. Food Enzymes are found in foods we eat, Digestive Enzymes aid in digestion, and Metabolic Enzymes work in individual cells. An enzyme functions as a catalyst. They speed up chemical reactions in the body by reducing the amount of energy needed to perform that reaction. In digestion, they speed up the process of breaking food down into its smallest parts, which are then absorbed by the small intestine.
Digestive enzymes are present from the moment you first begin to eat. They are in your saliva, breaking starches into sugars. There are no enzymes in your throat, but they pick up again in your stomach. Here a lot of breakdown occurs with different enzymes breaking down different types of substances. There are separate enzymes for proteins, fats, carbs, starches, fiber etc. The fiber enzyme, cellulose, is not produced by the human body and is in fact a food enzyme in that you must consume it.
The pancreas also produces many enzymes necessary for the breakdown of food into absorbable particles. The pancreas is one of the most important digestive organs for this reason. Finally, the smallest particles are further rendered and absorbed in the small intestine. This is also how the body determines which nutrients it requires and, conversely, what is waste. The nutrients are absorbed and the waste is eliminated from the body.
If your digestion is not working very well, it might be due to an enzyme deficiency. Symptoms of an enzyme deficiency include: acid reflux, heartburn, gas, bloating, cramps, diarrhea and/or constipation. If left untreated, enzyme deficiency can also lead to very serious health problems such as diabetes, Crohn's disease, hypertension, hypoglycemia, IBS, colitis, high cholesterol, weight loss/gain and chronic fatigue.
Enzyme deficiency can happen for a few reasons. For one thing, enzyme production naturally decreases as you age. For another, enzymes could usually be absorbed by food, but only raw food. Cooking and processing destroys the natural enzymes contained in food products. Since it is often difficult to eat a lot of raw food in every day life, especially when dealing with time constraints, most people don't absorb as many enzymes as they could be taking in.
A good way to get more enzymes in your life would be consciously eat raw fruits and vegetables with every meal, particularly at the onset of a meal. Another way would be to take enzyme supplements. A good enzyme supplement will contain many of the essential digestive enzymes in a special blend to enhance your digestive potential. Ensuring that you have a high level of enzymes in your body is one of the easiest ways to ensure good health.