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Digestion and Nutrition

The paper discusses the issues of the human digestive system, stages of food processing, and organs, involved in the course of meal consumption. It analyzes different types of the digestive tracks and makes the relevant conclusions about the functioning of the human digestive system. Moreover, it addresses the problems of nutrition, difficulties in digesting food and optimal diets for the health of the digestive system. It also pays attention to the potential digestive diseases and suggests preventive and curing methods and practices. The paper applies the methods of the content analysis, literature review, generalization, and analysis. The findings allow stating that the human digestive system is a complex structure, which operates on the psychological, physiological, and emotional levels. A thorough attention to the choice of food products is the key factor, which determines the healthy functioning of the digestive system. Therefore, the health of the digestive track depends on the individual choice of foods, establishment of a clear dietary plan, and following a healthy way of life.

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The digestive system is one of the most complicated systems in the human body, which regulates the whole course of the food processing and absorption. The digestive system of humans consists of many organs, which function in unity in order to manage the process of food consumption and its transformation into energy. The brain is also capable of food processing, because it defines and regulates the demand for food consumption. Since the issue of digestion system and nutrition is quite complicated, there is a need in paying sufficient attention to its health and functioning. This paper is going to analyze the structure of the human digestive system and the stages of food processing; compare and contrast the digestive systems of carnivores, herbivores, and humans; define the role of the brain in the food digestion; suggest the optimal nutrition for the health of the digestive system; and discuss the ways of prevention and treatment of the digestive diseases. 

Structure and Stages of the Digestive System

The human digestive system is a complex, sophisticated structure, which is responsible for accepting food, changing the nutrients into energy, and enriching the whole organism with the required substances and chemicals. It comprises of different organs, which provide the optimal and effective processing of meal into energy on several stages.  To start with, the digestive process begins with the consumption of food with the help of a mouth. The mouth cavity consists of essential organs (teeth, tongue, lips, soft and hard palate), which help to chew and chop food into small pieces. The secretion of saliva assists in processing the food and making it acceptable for the further absorption (Sherwood, 2015).

On the second stage of processing, the food passes to throat and esophagus. These organs help to absorb the food and deliver it to stomach, which is the central organ of the digestive system, as it plays a vital role in the transformation of food into energy (Sherwood, 2015). In the stomach the food is crushed, divided into pieces, and covered with the special enzymes and secrets, facilitating its decomposition. 

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From the stomach, the food passes into the small and large intestines. These are long tubes, which enrich the food with specific enzymes and secrets, produced by the pancreas and liver (Sherwood, 2015). A part of the food transforms into energy and enriches the organism, while the other part contains useless elements, called the stool. This part enters the next stage of the digestive process, represented by rectum. Finally, the last stage of the digestive process is the evacuation of the useless food elements with the help of the anus (Sherwood, 2015). It is essential to mention that the brain regulates all the stages and processes of the digestive system as well as the time and amount of food consumption. 

Differences in the Digestive Tracts of a Carnivore, Herbivore and Man

Carnivores are living organisms, the digestive tracks of which are designed to process meat products and food of animal origin. Carnivores have wide mouths, strong teeth and muscles of the mandible that assist in breaking food into small pieces. Moreover, they have relatively short digestive tracks, as they get a sufficient number of nutrients from small amounts of meal. However, a stomach of a carnivore takes about 60-70% of the whole digestive system (Karasov, Martínez del Rio, & Caviedes-Vidal, 2011). The other specific feature of carnivores’ digestive system is the absence of enzymes in the saliva, which could facilitate the process of food absorption. Such structure of the digestive system prevents overeating and health-related problems with the indigestion. 

On the contrary, the herbivores are those organisms, which process the plant food. In comparison with the carnivores, they have weaker teeth and mouth muscles, as they do not need to break the harsh food. Moreover, their mouths are smaller than those of the carnivores (Shahack-Gross, 2011). At the same time, herbivores have small stomachs, which prevent an excessive storage of food in one place (Shahack-Gross, 2011). However, the length of the digestive track remains quite long, since it is responsible for keeping the food inside the organism till its complete composition.

Taking humans into consideration, it is possible to define them as omnivores, who are equally used to eating plant and animal products. The structure of the human digestive system comprises of the elements, typical for both types of digestion. It is essential to mention that humans have long digestive tracks; saliva, enriched with the secrets and enzymes; and stomachs, capable of processing different food (Shahack-Gross, 2011). Thus, humans share the characteristics of herbivores and carnivores and show the capacities to digest any type of meal. 


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Brain’s Influence on Body’s Need in Food

The latest researches allow stating the fact that the brain is responsible for determining the need in food. It happens due to the existence of numerous connections between the cells of the brain and other organs (Karra, et al., 2013). For instance, the hypothalamus is capable of communicating with other parts of the body and regulating the release of the chemicals, which provoke hunger and demand for food. The bright images of food, visual recollections, smells, or sounds of cooking can trigger the brain areas, which are in charge of identifying the need in food.

When the brain feels the insufficiency of the nutrients, it sends the signal about the necessity to obtain the required substances. In such cases it releases special neurotransmitters, which evoke the feeling of hunger and indicate the need in food (Karra, et al., 2013). In the same way, during the transformation of food into energy and vital nutrients, a signal about the necessity to process them is sent to the brain. Thus, there is a mutual connection and correlation between the work of all organs, when they deal with the food consuming and processing. 

Characteristics of the Hard to Digest Food

Food, which is hard to digest, causes problems with the appropriate consumption and processing of the nutrients. It is particularly the food, which contains many fats, oils, or proteins that cannot be absorbed and processed easily due to the high amount of released nutrients. This is the case with wheat, barley, and rye products, which are rich in gluten and can cause indigestion on account of their complicated structure, which requires many efforts to be decomposed (Fieldhouse, 2013).   

Moreover, the dairy products are also hard to digest. The matter is that milk products contain lactose, which may cause difficulties with the digestion. The absorption of the lactose is possible only under the influence of special enzymes and secrets (Fieldhouse, 2013). If the human body does not produce them in the required amount, the obstacles with processing lactose appear. Overall, the problems with digestion can result from the natural composition of the products or improper preparation of food, which contains heavy nutrients and huge amount of chemical substances. 

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Optimal Nutrition for the Health of the Digestive System

The health of the digestive system depends on the diet, the time, and the amount of food consumption. Obviously, the key element of healthy digestive system is the avoidance of eating fatty food, fried products, chocolate, and caffeinated beverages. Moreover, it is essential to exclude the consumption of food, which causes individual allergies, indigestion, and other health-related problems (Fieldhouse, 2013). The diet should also consider the appropriate period of food consumption, as it also influences the productivity of digestive system and brain activities.

The health of the digestive system depends on the balanced and diversified consumption of food. Thus, it is important to combine the intake of animal and plant products, fruit and vegetables, dairy products, fish and grains (Fieldhouse, 2013). It is essential to pay attention to the amounts of food, since the overeating is another reason of digestive problems. Overall, the health of the digestive system depends on the complex approach to the issue of food consumption, optimal choice of meal, and appropriate identification of periods and amounts of products intake.

Treatment and Prevention of the Digestive Diseases

Among the most common digestive diseases are the gastroesophageal reflux disease, gallstones, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, anal fissure, and hemorrhoids (Gelboin, 2012). Commonly, the digestive diseases have similar symptoms such as nausea, indigestion, chest pain, stomachache, constipation, and cramps. Their prevention consists in the appropriate dietary plan and thorough preparation of meals. It also requires the avoidance of alcohol, cigarettes, fried products, excessive medicine intake, high-fat and acidic foods (Gelboin, 2012). As opposed to it, doctors advise to include many vegetables and fruit into the daily ration, introduce the consumption of vitamins, pay attention to the appropriate daily physical load and lead a healthy way of life. 

The treatment of the digestive diseases includes the prophylactic measures, consultation with the professionals, and the medicine intake. However, it is also important to avoid the consumption of harmful products and foods, which are difficult for decomposition. Therefore, it is possible to conclude that the treatment of the digestive diseases highly depends on the changes in the nutrition and the choice of a right dietary plan.

In conclusion, the human digestive system comprises of many structural components, organs, and stages, which guarantee the transformation of food into energy. The consumption of food is not a mere physiological process, as it also involves the brain activities and individual psychological perception of the products. The analysis of different digestive systems indicates their complicated structures and stages. In order to prevent any malfunctioning of the digestive system, it is necessary to establish an affordable, healthy, and diversified dilatory plan as well as to perform physical exercises. Overall, it is important to remember that the health of the digestive system depends on the individual choice of products and their combinations.

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