This is the third article in a five part series devoted to digestion where we have been following a nutritionally poor meal, typical of America, from the mouth to the esophagus to the stomach. We have seen that the food enters the mouth where enzymes are added via sublingual glands. The meal then moves through the esophagus where it is warmed, and then to the stomach where pre-digestion takes place depending on the nutritional value of the meal (does the meal have enzymes to digest protein, fats and carbohydrates). Then stomach acid and a strong protein digesting enzyme are added to complete the stomachs processing of this meal. Now we will follow this nutritionally poor meal from the stomach into the duodenum.
The Function of the Duodenum
The chyme (digested food from stomach the consistency of a milk shake) is slowly transported from the pylorus (a valve at the end portion of the stomach) through the pyloric sphincter into the first part of the small intestine called the duodenum where further digestion occurs.
The inside wall of the duodenum has a smooth surface like the skin on your face. It is at this point that the acidic chyme must be alkalized so the assimilation of this nutrient filled liquid is as complete as possible. In addition, this alkalization is very important so that the acid from the stomach is neutralized and will not burn the walls of the small intestine.
The duodenum, an eight to nine inch long chamber is where more chemicals of digestion are added. The Ampule of Papilla is located in the duodenum wall. This is an opening where bile from the gallbladder, and enzymes and bicarbonate from the pancreas enter the duodenum. They combine with the chyme to begin the final part of digestion in the small intestines. Enzymes are also excreted through the walls of the duodenum to assist with this digestion.
The Average American Meal and what happens at the Duodenum
Your body is aware of what you have eaten (there are sensors in the duodenum) and it calls on your liver, gallbladder, pancreas and other avenues of digestive chemicals to assist in the breakdown and assimilation of nutrients and protection of the digestive tract. Your body expects you to bring in live food rich in enzymes (uncooked foods such as produce) to assist in this digestive process.
Here at the duodenum is where the body has a chance to recover from any mistakes made at your mouth. But without enough raw food to supply the enzymes and alkaline that was needed to create a balanced meal no recovery will take place. A meal totally unprepared will continue through the duodenum to the small intestine where impossible assimilation is undertaken. From this point on the damage to your body takes place over and over bringing disease.
If you do not bring in enough live enzymes with the food you have eaten you may expect to have acid indigestion (undigested food), acid reflux, ulcers and constipation all caused by food improperly prepared at your mouth (no live enzymes). As this improperly prepared food enters the duodenum, your digestive awareness will call on the pancreas and gallbladder to do the job you did not do. Your pancreas and gallbladder will then strain to prepare this acidic chyme for release into the small intestine. Allow this to happen enough times and you will get sick.
Constantly releasing acidic unprepared chyme from the duodenum to the small intestine, can lead to such diseases as Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease and leaky gut. These in turn can lead to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, muscular dystrophy, etc.