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How Are Fats Digested?

Fat digestion may be the last thing on your mind when munching on a handful of nuts, but
maybe it shouldn't be. Digestion, which can take 40 hours on average, is an important process
from which you obtain all of your nutrients. Proper fat digestion requires that the
gastrointestinal tract and the accessory organs -- the liver, gallbladder and pancreas -- work
together in perfect harmony.
In the Mouth and Stomach
The process of digestion starts in the mouth, although fat does not get broken down at this
point. Mechanical digestion occurs as your teeth grind food and break it apart into smaller
pieces. Chemical digestion takes place as lingual lipase, an enzyme in your saliva, begins to
emulsify fat and saliva moistens the food to make it easier to swallow.
When the food reaches your stomach, the muscles there begin to churn and move to further
break it down. Once it leaves the stomach, the food has become a semi-liquid substance
referred to as chyme.
In the Small Intestine
The small intestine is the main site for absorption of nutrients and the digestion of fat. When
chyme enters the duodenum -- the upper portion of the small intestine -- hormones signal the
gallbladder to contract. These contractions push bile, which is made by the liver, out of the
gallbladder and into the common bile duct, which connects the gallbladder to the small
intestine. At the same time, the pancreas, located just underneath the stomach, secretes
bicarbonate ions, which neutralize the pH of the chyme entering the small intestine, and
lipases, enzymes that break down fat.
Creation of Micelles
Fats are hydrophobic, which means they do not dissolve in water. Left to their own devices, fat
molecules would clump together and form one big fat molecule that is not easily digested. Bile
prevents this from happening. Bile molecules have a hydrophobic, or water-fearing, end and a
hydrophilic, or water-loving, end. The hydrophobic end sticks to each fat molecule and the
hydrophilic protrudes to prevent the molecules from sticking together. The combined
structures of fat molecules and bile molecules are called micelles.
Breakdown of Micelles
Once fat molecules become micelles, lipases go to work, breaking down fat molecules into fatty
acids and monoglycerides, which pass through the small intestine. After they pass through the
small intestine, fatty acids are converted to triglycerides, which combine with cholesterol,
phospholipids and protein to form a structure called a chylomicron. The protein coating of the
chylomicron makes it water-soluble so it can travel through the lymph vessels and eventually
the bloodstream.

How Is Protein
Digested?
What is protein?
Protein is one of the most important substances in your body. Your muscles, hair,
eyes, organs, and many hormones and enzymes are primarily made out of protein. It
also helps to repair and maintain your body tissues. However, not all protein is created
equal, and there are things you can do to help your body use it more efficiently.

Protein is a very large nutrient that’s made up of smaller substances called amino
acids. There are 20 amino acids, but your body can only make 9 of them. The other 11
are called essential amino acids, and you can only get them through your diet.

High-quality protein sources, such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products, contain all
nine of the essential amino acids. These are also called whole proteins or complete
proteins.

Other protein sources, such as nuts, beans, and seeds, only contain some essential
amino acids. However, you can combine some of these protein sources, such as rice
and beans, to create a complete protein that contains all nine essential amino acids.

Not sure how much protein you need per day? Here’s how you calculate how much
you really need.

The role of enzymes


Protein digestion begins when you first start chewing. There are two enzymes in your
saliva called amylase and lipase. They mostly break down carbohydrates and fats.

Once a protein source reaches your stomach, hydrochloric acid and enzymes called
proteases break it down into smaller chains of amino acids. Amino acids are joined
together by peptides, which are broken by proteases.

From your stomach, these smaller chains of amino acids move into your small
intestine. As this happens, your pancreas releases enzymes and a bicarbonate buffer
that reduces the acidity of digested food. This reduction allows more enzymes to work
on further breaking down amino acid chains into individual amino acids.

Some common enzymes involved in this phase include:

 trypsin
 chymotrypsin
 carboxypeptidase
How is protein absorbed?
Protein absorption also happens in your small intestine, which contains microvilli.
These are small, finger-like structures that increase the absorptive surface area of your
small intestine. This allows for maximum absorption of amino acids and other
nutrients.

Once they’ve been absorbed, amino acids are released into your bloodstream, which
takes them to cells in other parts of your body so they can start repairing tissue and
building muscle.

How can I absorb more protein?


The first step in increasing your protein absorption is choosing whole proteins that
contain all nine essential amino acids. These include:

 meat
 fish
 eggs
 dairy products

If you’re a vegetarian, you can make a complete protein with the following
combinations:

Protein combination Examples

grains and legumes rice with lentils or pasta salad with kidney beans

grains and eggs egg-salad sandwich on whole grain bread

legumes with seeds hummus, which contains chickpeas and sesame seed paste

grains and dairy grilled cheese on whole wheat bread

It was previously believed that vegetarian proteins must be consumed at the same
meal in order for the body to form complete proteins. Now it’s known that the body
can pool proteins from various foods throughout the day to form complete proteins
when needed. So for vegetarians, variety is key.

Habits to follow
In addition to choosing the right protein sources, you can also adopt certain habits to
help get the most out the food you eat. These include:

 eating regularly throughout the day


 thoroughly chewing your food
 reducing stress
 avoiding intense exercise right after a meal
 limiting your alcohol consumption
 managing any underlying condition that affects digestion, such as diabetes or liver
disease
 taking probiotics, such as B. coagulans 30, which can improve protein absorption
 eating protein throughout the day, rather than all at once
 following a regular exercise routine

The bottom line


Protein is a vital nutrient for almost every part of your body. It’s digested in your
mouth, stomach, and small intestine before it’s released into your bloodstream as
individual amino acids.

You can maximize the nutrients you get from protein sources by eating complete
proteins and adopting certain habits, such as chewing thoroughly before swallowing.
If you’re ready for more protein now, add these high-protein foods to your diet!

How Are Carbohydrates


Digested, Absorbed &
Eliminated?
Carbohydrates, one of the four major macronutrients, provide a significant amount of fuel to
the human body. However, if carbohydrates are not properly digested and absorbed, they
cannot perform their essential functions. Digestion and absorption occurs along the
gastrointestinal tract, and remaining, undigested carbohydrates are then eliminated from the
colon.
Types of Carbohydrates
There are three main types of carbohydrates: starches, sugars and dietary fiber. Starches and
sugars are considered the energy-yielding carbohydrates because they are fully digestible and,
once absorbed, they provide the body with 4 calories of energy per gram of carbohydrate.
Alternatively, fiber is a type of carbohydrate which is not fully digestible because humans lack
the enzymes to break down fibers. As such, fiber is the main carbohydrate which is eliminated
through excretion.
Carbohdyrate Digestion
The two digestible carbohydrates are starches and sugars, and both of these carbohydrates are
digested, or broken down into their most elementary form, along the gastrointestinal tract.
Amylase, an enzyme which breaks apart starches, is found in the mouth and in the small
intestine. Similarly, the three major enzymes which break apart sugars -- sucrase, maltase and
lactase -- are also found in the mouth and in the small intestine. Once these digested starches
and sugars begin to move through the small intestine, they are able to be absorbed.
Carbohydrate Absorption
Once carbohydrates are broken down into their simplest forms, they are quickly absorbed
along the upper and lower parts of the small intestine. Small, finger-like projections, called villi,
absorb the carbohydrates, then they are transferred to the blood stream and carried to muscles
and the liver.
Carbohydrate Elimination
When carbohydrates are not fully digested or absorbed, they are eliminated from the body.
Dietary fiber is one of the carbohydrates which humans cannot digest, thus dietary fiber is the
most commonly excreted type of carbohydrate. In addition, lactose, a type of sugar, can also be
excreted if an individual lacks the proper enzymes to digest this carbohydrate. All undigested
carbohydrates move from the small intestine, where absorption would normally occur, to the
large intestine and the colon, where elimination finally occurs.