The different kind of food we eat (starches, fats and proteins) are all converted into blood sugar by the chemistry of the body. In the various stages of digestion, these foods undergo
different treatment before being broken down into their simple constituents by the
action of enzymes (ferments).
For example, the starchy and sugary foods are first acted upon by the salivary juices
in the mouth, which contain a ferment called ptyalin, whereas the fats are first dealt with
in the stomach, where they are acted upon by pepsin and converted into peptone,
the next step in a complicated digestive process.
The proteins, in the early stages of digestion, are dealt with similarly to fats, but the
gastric juice contains hydrochloric acid and various enzymes that are essential for
the digestion of proteins. In its late stages, the digestion of protein foods differs widely
from that of fatty foods.
The major portion of the digestive process does not occur in the stomach at all,but in the small intestine, where secretions from the liver, pancreas and intestinal mucosa ensure
the splitting of foods into substances that can readily be absorbed by the bloodstream.
The Role of Vitamins in Digestion
When there is a lack of vitamin B1 in the diet, there are less vigorous contractions
of the stomach, which in turn causes food to be improperly mixed with the gastric juice.
Moreover, hydrochloric acid is secreted in smaller amounts then are required for the
digestion of protein foods, or may be entirely absent. As a result, the partly-digested
food leads to the formation of gas, which gives rise to gas pains, flatulence, belching
and other unpleasant symptoms of indigestion.
Thorough mastication of foods is essential to good digestion,and also aids the
enjoyment of food flavors.
Experiments conducted at the well-known Mayo Foundation, U.S.A., as related in
Vitality through Planned Nutrition by Adelle Davis, revealed that four young women
who lived on diets almost lacking in vitamin B1 for 21 weeks developed digestive disturbances, gas pains and constipation.
IN addition, they became anaemic, were nervous, irritable, and unable to sleep well.
The need for an adequate intake of vitamin B1 to guard against digestive upsets, etc.,
should require no emphases.
The danger of sodium bicarbonate and alkalinizers is that they neutralize
the normal secretion of hydrochloric acid and also destroy vitamins B1, B2 and C, with
perhaps other vitamins in the B group in addition.
When there is a reason to suspect an abnormal secretion of hydrochloric acid, which
can of course give rise to stomach ulcer, steps must be taken to adopt a diet that consists
of 80% alkaline foods. Theses are diluted fruit juices, fruits, both fresh and cooked,
salad vegetables and cooked vegetables, milk and dried fruits.
Meat should be entirely omitted from the diet for a time and such foods as eggs, cheese,
fish, bread and concentrated starches and sugars reduced to no more than 20% of
the daily diet.