How Digestion Works & The Digestive Process
By Ryan Harrison, MA, BCIH
You may have heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.” The truth, however, is that “You are what you digest” or “You are what you absorb” from the foods and drinks you take into your body. In order to make use of what you eat, your body has to take the food and change it into very small particles that can then be used to nourish your cells and all the different organs and systems of your body.
There are several steps to the digestive process, but in short, food follows this pathway:
1) First, you take food into your mouth where it’s torn, broken apart, and ground down through the process of chewing. An enzyme that’s naturally present in saliva also goes to work at this point, helping to break down some food.
2) In the stomach, the food that you have swallowed is further digested with stomach juices. The stomach churns, mixing the food with these juices, eventually producing a semi-liquid substance called chyme.
3) With time, the chyme moves into your small intestine, where the majority of nutrient absorption actually occurs. What was once your meal now makes its way through the thin, coiled tube known as your small intestines. All the while, additional enzymes from the liver and pancreas are released. These enzymes are essential in proper digestion, as they help break down the different kinds of macronutrients that make up the foods you eat: fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Without enzymes, much of your food would pass through you undigested and, therefore, unused.
4) As the chyme makes its way through your intestines, small, finger-like projections called villi and microvilli come into contact with partially-digested food, allowing nutrients to be absorbed and start circulating throughout the body.
5) When the digested food has made its way through your small intestine, it then enters the large intestine, also known as the colon.
This last part of your digestive health system is designed to compact the chime and to soak up any excess water.
In fact, all along the digestive tract, microbiota – more often termed “gut flora” or simply “bacteria” – play an important role in aiding healthy digestion and guarding health. Research has confirmed that the “friendly” bacteria in your gut play many roles in your overall level of health and wellness. Among other things, these bacteria empower the immune system, enhance gut motility (the movement of food through the intestines) and reduce inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract.
Many people boost their levels of these friendly bacteria by taking a premium-grade, enteric coated probiotic. This essentially introduces more of the healthy bacteria into your body through supplementation and is an excellent way to improve digestion and overall health at the same time.
6) At the end of the digestive journey, the chyme has moved completely through the system, all the moisture and other nutrients that could have been absorbed hopefully have been, and the remaining mass—that metabolic end product of food digestion—is stored in the end of the colon and in the rectum waiting to be released.
If you have a healthy digestive system, you won’t have any problems along this pathway and a typical meal may take between 24 and 72 hours to complete the digestive process. However, it’s very common for people to have trouble digesting certain foods and to experience any of a variety of related symptoms, from bloating and gas to occasional constipation or loose stools.
Easy Steps for Digestive Health
The best way to make sure that your digestive system is clean and working optimally is to eat a well-balanced diet, drink plenty of pure water, exercise and engage in regular internal cleansing. This will help keep your digestive system clean and clear, allowing food to move through in a timely manner, so that it doesn’t have a chance to get “stuck” and start compromising digestive health and elimination.
But what exactly does a good colon cleanse program look like?
For starters, you’ll want to find a product made with premium-grade, all-natural ingredients. Make sure that the program you choose is manufactured correctly and safely, according to current Good Manufacturing Practices set by the Food and Drug Administration.
Second, look for a cleansing program that doesn’t promise to work overnight or in a very short period of time. The program shouldn’t be so short that it doesn’t do you any real good, but it should also be easy enough to use that you can stay with it even if it takes several weeks. If a cleanse promises to sweep your insides clean in a few days, beware! Some cleanses are very harsh and can cause diarrhea and intestinal discomfort. So look for one that is gentle but effective; a good cleanse should last at least a few weeks and be gentle enough for daily use.
And finally, you’ll want to select a colon cleansing program that contains both soluble and insoluble fiber – nature’s all-natural, internal “broom” – as well as powerful herbs that are well-known to cleanse the body and aid digestion.
Colonix® Internal Cleansing Program by DrNatura meets each of these criteria. All natural and made from premium ingredients, it is a gentle but very effective cleanse designed to be used for at least 30 days. Additionally, the Colonix Cleansing Program has a proven track record of helping people all over the world to get their digestive systems back in great working order, and a risk-free 60-day money back guarantee. Try DrNatura’s Colonix program today and optimize your digestive health.
Balch, P. (2010). Prescription for Nutritional Healing (5th ed.). NY: Avery.
Duggan, C., Gannon, J., & Walker, W. A. (2002). Protective Nutrients and Functional Foods for the Gastrointestinal Tract, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 75(5), 789-808. Retrieved July 15, 2011 from
Picco, M. F. (2010). Digestion: How Long Does it Take? Retrieved July 15, 2011 from