A cast-iron stomach refers to a person with such strong digestion that they can eat anything without ever getting an upset stomach or heartburn. This person’s body can break down and sort out the best of each meal, only absorbing what the body needs and removing any foods that are not helpful.
Today I want to paint a picture of exactly what happens when digestion works. Next week I’ll discuss why your stomach hurts and which food therapies can be used to strengthen your digestion.
Digestion starts in the brain. When we see, smell, or even think of tasty food, the digestive juices start flowing. Strong digestion is all about these digestive juices – enzymes in the mouth, hydrochloric acid in the stomach, bile from the gallbladder, enzymes from the pancreas and probiotics in the colon.
After chewing and enjoying food, the stomach begins to release hydrochloric acid. This stomach acid is strong enough to burn a hole in your hand, but in a healthy stomach it only burns up food – sterilizing and breaking it down. High stomach acid helps to close the esophageal sphincter so things don’t gurgle up and cause heartburn and the same high stomach acid triggers the next step of juices in the small intestine.
That combination of hydrochloric acid and food, called a bolus, leaves the stomach and goes into the small intestine. There, bile joins the bolus to emulsify fats. Pancreatic enzymes join in to break down food into nutrients to build strong bodies. Ideally, the body makes the right amount of digestive juices for each meal. A cast-iron stomach makes plenty of bile and enzymes, adjusting production any time when you send in some new strange food – extra spicy vegetables and beans – no problem, add special enzymes for the beans. Greasy pulled pork – no problem, extra bile to emulsify fats and special fat and protein enzymes. Ice cream with caramel sauce – lactaid for milk, sucrose enzyme for sugar with extra bile for the fat. You get the picture – are there certain foods that you can’t digest?
After the small intestine, the bolus goes through another sphincter into the large intestine. The large intestine is full of bacteria that mixes in to ferment the food and create more vitamins. After being fermented, excess water and the remaining nutrients are absorbed into the blood stream until you’re left with a healthy bowel movement.
After all that work, great digestion can turn any variety of different foods into a healthy strong body.
My ultimate goal is to help your digestion work great so that if you don’t eat the right thing sometimes, you’ll still be ok. A restrictive diet can be helpful as a tool to help you heal, but the end goal shouldn’t be a restrictive diet – the end goal should be a cast-iron stomach.
What would it be like if you had a strong stomach that functioned well no matter what you eat? Stay tuned this month as I explain what causes heartburn in my blog and how to fix heartburn in an online class – Heartburn Solutions.
If you’re ready to have that conversation and learn about healing your own personal stomach problems click to schedule a time to talk.