Proper food assimilation is an important function of a healthy digestive tract. The process known as assimilation ensures that the body is supplied with vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and protein (as well as other nutrients) that have been broken down from food and passed through the body. Proper food assimilation ensures that the body gets the fuel needed to function correctly and helps make certain there are no problems that arise in the gastrointestinal tract. There are two components to healthy food assimilation: physical and chemical breakdown of food.
The physical breakdown of food inherent to food assimilation is known as oral mastication. Oral mastication is the
process of bringing food into the mouth and chewing it thoroughly with the teeth, mixing it with enzyme rich saliva. Many health leaders
state that people tend to neglect this part of the diet and may in fact overeat as they are not spending enough time chewing their food.
Oral mastication is in fact the first step in the digestion process. Many nutrition experts believe that there is a correlation between
calorie reduction and chewing foods as well. First, those who chew their food slowly and carefully tend to feel full quicker than those
who put large portions in their mouths, chew quickly then swallow. Those who chew their foods thoroughly report better food assimilation
indicating they have a reduced amount of bloating or cramping after eating. It has been a long known dieter’s secret that chewing food
carefully and thoroughly stems off additional calories eaten in excess.
The proper mix of food and saliva before swallowing has many benefits to the body. It is only when food has
been chewed to the point it is nearly a liquid that proper food assimilation can take place. Not only are health benefits increased,
as your food will deliver more life giving nutrients, but by chewing your food correctly you can lower your food bills. Those who become
conscious eaters and develop a pattern of eating correctly and thoroughly chewing their food will find they are less likely to become mindless eaters. This is one of the worst food addictions that people face and there is often little that can be done to break the cycle
besides making behavioral changes. Many find that they can reduce this addiction by giving proper focus to food assimilation, consciously focusing on the food they eat, slowing down the food
process by eating carefully and by chewing their foods thoroughly.
After food is thoroughly chewed it is then swallowed. Swallowing food is an important aspect of food assimilation for it is after food has been swallowed that it is broken down by enzymes and acids. Digestive enzymes play an enormous role in food assimilation. This is known as the chemical component of food assimilation.
Digestive enzymes break down food into smaller particles so that they may be used by food in the body. Enzymes break
down various types of food into different chemicals used for nutrition. These chemicals include amino acids, fatty acids, sugars,
nucleotides and glycerol. Enzymes are present in saliva, the stomach, the pancreas and small intestine. One of the reasons why chewing food
carefully and mixing it with saliva is an important aspect of food assimilation is due to the enzymes present in saliva. The enzymes
help convert solid food into liquid form making it easier to pass through the body. It is through the process of breaking down foods
through enzymes that the digestive tract performs its most important work. In fact, one of the reasons why many health experts advocate the eating of raw foods is due to the enzymes they possess.
Living and raw foods have more enzymes present than foods that have been heated through cooking, steaming or boiling
processes. Raw foods, such as vegetables, fruit, legumes and sprouts contain a plentiful source of enzymes that help in the digestion
process, therefore helping with food assimilation. There are numerous enzymes present within the body that assist food assimilation.
It’s important to realize the importance of enzymes as they correlate to food assimilation and the possibility
that as one grows older, he or she may lose the important enzymes needed for proper digestion. This is commonly seen in those who become lactose intolerance.
Most humans are born with the enzyme lactase present in their digestive tract. When a person drinks or eats food
contacting lactose, the body looks to the lactase enzyme for digestion. If that enzyme isn’t present, the lactose products pass into the colon without being properly broken down or assimilated. The
lactose products may begin a fermentation process in the colon which causes abdominal pain, cramps, gas, bloating and general malaise.
Though once the lactase enzyme diminishes it can’t be replaced permanently, those who are lactose intolerant can take the lactase
enzyme in tablet form, consume foods containing lactose and avoid the negative effects associated with the missing enzyme. Understanding
enzymes is an important aspect of food assimilation. By knowing how enzymes work you can ensure that you chew your food thoroughly and identify symptoms that may indicate a lack of a necessary enzyme in the digestive tract.