We take for granted just being able to go to our kitchens, open the fridge and grab ourselves a snack. Please spare a second thought for it on World Food Day on October 16th. There’s hope, but we must act now.
What is the stomach?
The stomach, or better, the digestive system, converts food into something that can keep us alive. The human digestive system, often considered our second brain, consists of the mouth, teeth, tongue, oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine and finally, the colon. The teeth bite and chew up the food in the mouth, making it easier to swallow and digest. Saliva is added to aid swallowing and enzymes begin digestion. Many enzymes are secreted into the food at different stages as it passes through us to maximize the absorption of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, etc. When it gets to the stomach, it is given a bath in hydrochloric acid to kill unwanted germs and further break up food. Then it passes into the small intestine where more enzymes are added and the real process of absorption begins. The large intestine continues the job and finally the spent food is ejected from the colon.
What is in the stomach (and what should not)?
“You are what you eat,” as the old proverb goes, but these days, many stomachs go hungry and many consume far too much, but yet do not find fulfilment. A varied diet is essential for all of the body’s many functions. We must therefore be careful what we put into the digestive system, because the rate of absorption is very high, including heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, plastics, etc. Here are some of the challenges facing humanity at the present moment…
Malnutrition is common all over the world, even in developed Westernised countries. Since the pandemic, the divide between the haves and have nots has become even more pronounced, with the rich becoming even richer and the poor even poorer, and the middle class is disappearing everywhere. Poverty reduces access to quality food and a varied diet is becoming difficult, trying to guarantee just putting anything in your stomach or nothing at all becomes a frequent decision. Malnutrition often leads to obesity and poor health. In undeveloped and developing countries it is particularly associated with corruption, which prevents the population from leaving poverty. In developed countries, we have problems caused by excess and lack, curiously. We consume an excess of meat protein and carbohydrates, which is much higher than most people require, while fruit and vegetable consumption are usually lower than needed. Our diets also lack a variety of minerals and nutrients. The Meat Industry is the third largest polluter, after the Petroleum Industry and Clothing Industry. For this reason, I cannot stress how important it is for you to source the best quality ingredients you can afford and that they are as Fresh and Organic as possible. That also means trying to avoid preservatives, E numbers and any food additives that sound like tongue twisters. Try to make sure the goods are sourced locally as well to reduce your impact on the environment, and supporting your local farmers will go a long way towards knowing what goes in your system and benefitting your community.
Think about how you consume liquids, as you might be getting too much or not enough. Good clean drinking water is as vital to good health as good food. As a rough daily guide, about 2 litres is required by an adult, but this can vary depending on climate, physical exertion and other factors. Listen to your body and try to understand what it is trying to tell you, because those urges to drink, or eat particular types of foods may suggest dietary inadequacies. Consider how you prepare your food, and your drinks, as cooking and heating may alter the nutritional value. Generally, the less they are manipulated and processed, the better it is for you. It may be more complicated to maintain a balanced and healthy diet for those who suffer from food allergies and intolerances, and who might benefit from a more basic diet, but not everyone needs to follow a specific diet (For example, gluten-free, lactose-free or fat-free), but if you have any doubts, please ask a qualified Dietician or consult your Doctor.
One of the greatest challenges facing the human race is Food wastage. In the Western World, around 40% of food being produced is just thrown away, much of it within plastic packaging which is terrible for the environment. We consume the equivalent of a credit card sized amount of plastics every week (5 grams!), and Bisphenol-A (BPA) and additives used in the making of plastics (Phthalates) are known to disrupt hormone function in humans and can cause infertility. Take time to learn how to preserve your foods in the most beneficial way, maximizing their shelf life (Refrigeration, freezing, salting, smoking, food-drying, etc). Take note how long something can be stored and what methods are best to achieve that (Vacuum-sealing, mason jars, safe plastic ware, etc). A use by date is very different to a best before date. People often do not know the difference and a lot of food is wasted when still perfectly edible, while others have made the mistake of eating something past its use by date and have become very ill, and even died.
Sleep is also of huge importance and it helps your system to reboot and do essential maintenance. Many studies have proven the beneficial nature of good sleep. At the same time, spending time in nature (For example, near the sea, in a forest or up a mountain), far away from the stresses of modern life, supposedly helps to relieve stress and lower anxiety for your main brain. Many studies on poor sleep habits and insomnia relate to Depression. Your second brain is a complicated structure too and needs its own maintenance. Research is ongoing into the gut microbiome and the benefits it holds. Imbalances in those bacteria and organisms can lead to intestinal diseases and malfunction. Alcohol, drugs and most things artificial usually damage its functioning.
How does humanity benefit from the stomach?
The digestive system tries to remove the beneficial elements from the food and drink we consume. As a Nutritionist once told me, “If you listen to your stomach’s needs and cravings, you can often work out what dietary requirements are missing”
How to Save Our Stomachs?
Individually: We must educate ourselves about the products and chemicals we so freely put on our skin, including tattoos. Many of them are harmful to us and nature, and also find out about the substances we put inside our bodies, either deliberately or that might enter through our skin.
Collectively, including Governments: We should Government must be encouraged to do more to protect the rest of the flora and fauna too.
Unpopular opinion: If a supermarket has a health food section, what does that make the rest of the food in it? While I may not be an expert on the matter, I certainly realize when I have consumed something that my system does not recognize as either food or drink. We ought to eat and drink only things which are natural and good for our bodies. I realise it is quite hard to always do that, so try to limit the damage to a minimum. Protecting ourselves from further environmental disasters and cleaning up our mess must be top priorities. As my dearly departed mother always used to say, “Everything in moderation!”
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to check the veracity of the information contained within, certain limitations could result in not all data being current or completely accurate. Please feel free to contact us if you feel particular data needs updating.
Save Our Stomachs Test
Here are 10 questions...
How it started
How it's going
SOSquiz Glossary of Terms (with links to Wikipedia)
AEEA (Asociación Española de Educación Ambiental)
ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network)
Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
Carbon Monoxide (CO)
Coronavirus (Covid-19 or SARS Cov-2)
Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
National Security Agency (NSA)
Particulate Matter (PM 10, 2.5 & UFP)
Quality of life (QOL)
Ultrafine particles (UFP)
World Wide Web (www)