So much of health is dependent on the types and amounts of foods consumed that it is easy to overlook how food itself plays a role in the disease process within the digestive system. Everyone requires a regulated and continuous supply of energy and nutrients for normal growth and functioning, tissue repair and overall health maintenance.
Most foods and beverages that we consume are complex chemicals that do not permit direct absorption. It's the digestive process that reduces these complex dietary elements into simple components that can be readily absorbed. Between mouth and anus is approximately 30 feet of connected organs that work every minute of the day to digest and absorb our daily energy and nutrition requirements. Digestion is initiated with chewing and other mechanical processes in the mouth and stomach and progresses to further breakdown by stomach acid, enzymes and other intestinal activities in preparation of nutrient transport across the intestinal wall.
Within this digestive system, however, food can also cause irritation and contribute to disease. For example, in people with celiac disease, dietary gluten causes changes in the intestine that lead to decreased absorption of vital nutrients.