Digest better and fill up faster – this is how nutrition works

Forum Health Digest better and fill up faster – this is how nutrition works

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    Digest better and fill up faster – this is how nutrition works

    Why do certain foods fill you up more and others less? Why does the feeling of being hungry not always mean that you are really hungry? How long is our body busy processing different types of food? To answer these questions, we need to look at the complex human digestive system and the factors that influence it.

    Why are our mouth watering?

    In summary, digestion is the process by which food is broken down into the nutrients that the body can use. This process begins with the ingestion of food in the mouth and ends in the small intestine. But even before the food even reaches the mouth, our body is preparing for its work: As soon as we have the food in front of our noses, the senses react; Seeing and smelling increases the production of saliva, because the enzymes it contains give the starting shot for the digestive process, so to speak. Then the tools in the mouth ensure that the food is properly chewed so that it can be swallowed well and passed through the esophagus to the stomach.

    The real work starts in the stomach

    The digestive juices contained in the stomach and the enzymes in them are responsible for breaking down food. Our stomach is a muscle that moves and ensures that everything can be mixed and transported. The gastric juice also contains antibacterial substances, which is why this organ also protects us from diseases. The broken down food components enter the small intestine in liquid form. There, useful nutrients and water are absorbed through the walls of the small intestine. Everything that is unusable for the body is passed on to the large intestine – the work in the large intestine is just as important, but is no longer assigned to the digestive process. In order to prepare the rest of the chyme for bowel movements, salts, but above all a large part of the liquid, are absorbed through the mucous membrane of the intestinal wall.

    Processing time varies depending on the diet

    Usually the food you eat is in your stomach for about 40 minutes to 2 hours. It also takes the same amount of time in the small intestine. The process can therefore take several hours. Depending on the diet, the duration can vary greatly: simple carbohydrates such as ordinary pasta, rice or sugar usually only stay in the stomach for half an hour to a full hour. For toast with avocado and egg, bacon or peanut butter, on the other hand, our stomach needs 2 to 4 hours for digestion. Because our digestive organs are occupied the longest with processing foods rich in fat or protein and foods with a high nutrient density. Liquids pass the stomach the fastest: water only stays in the stomach for 10 to 20 minutes – clear juices, tea and lemonades for a maximum of 40 minutes. Liquids such as protein shakes, smoothies or bone broths stay in the stomach for up to an hour.

    Individual circumstances affect digestion

    In addition to the food itself, other factors also influence the duration of digestive processes:

    Body type Metabolism Taking medication (e.g. for high blood pressure, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and antidepressants, etc.) Lifestyle: Physical activity and diet in general Activity level Previous operations Stress Genetics: Some people have a faster metabolism from birth, others have a slower metabolism Age: Slow down as we get older metabolism and motility (ability of organs and cells to move)

    Hormones affect feelings of hunger

    Everyone knows it: Sometimes our body literally screams for food, even though we know very well that we should actually feel full. This can be explained, among other things, by hunger hormones: Feelings of hunger are hormonally influenced. People who have a lot of appetite-stimulating hormones in their bodies – for example through the use of certain medications – have an increased desire for food. In addition to hormonal influences, individual stimuli also play a role: Emotional states such as stress or boredom can lead to so-called food cravings.

    What helps against food cravings

    The wrong type of diet can also lead to an excessive feeling of hunger: simple carbohydrates such as products made from white flour, foods rich in sugar or salt, and foods rich in saturated fatty acids ensure that we do not feel full for a long time and that we always want more. To counteract this, food with healthy fats, proteins as well as complex carbohydrates and fiber helps. So the motto is to pay attention to a nutritious and varied diet.

    Why saving calories isn’t everything

    One shouldn’t pay too much attention to the number of calories. Of course, unhealthy foods such as fast food or sweets are also very high in calories. But we need a certain amount of calories to have enough energy for the day. It is best to avoid nutrient-poor, high-calorie food and instead consume nutrient-rich foods, ideally unprocessed. Whole grain products, legumes, fruit, vegetables, eggs, nuts and potatoes keep you full for a long time. These foods also have their calories, but they are high in nutrient density. After consuming such nutrient-rich food, hunger takes longer to appear compared to so-called “empty calories” – such as high-fat and sugary dishes that include fast food.

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Forum Health Digest better and fill up faster – this is how nutrition works