Though it performs a fairly simple function on the surface—breaking down food for nutrients and eliminating waste—the gastrointestinal system is actually quite complex. For example, this amazing system is about 30 feet long, hosts more than 500 species of bacteria, and has its own mini-brain.1 Due to the number of components and processes it carries out, it’s no wonder that the gastrointestinal system plays such a critical role in our overall health and well-being.
Structure and function
More commonly known as the digestive system, the gastrointestinal system includes the gastrointestinal, or GI, tract, which begins at the mouth and ends at the anus. In between these start and end points, the foods and beverages we consume go through the esophagus and then the stomach, then to the small and large intestines.
But the gastrointestinal system is more than just these hollow organs; it also includes the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder. All 3 of these organs make digestive juices that travel to the small intestine, helping your body break down the food you eat. The small intestine also makes digestive juice. Combined with enzymes produced by bacteria, this juice mixes with pancreatic juice and bile to further break down food.2
Hormones and nerves also play a role in digestion. Nerves are found throughout the walls of the GI tract, and they help regulate digestive juice production and the movement of food through the GI tract.
Hormones are produced in the small intestine and stomach by way of the nervous and endocrine systems. These hormones regulate digestive juice production as well, but they also send signals to your brain—for instance, telling your brain when you are hungry or full.3
However, emerging evidence shows that hormones produced in the gastrointestinal system do more than just regulate digestion. A specific type of hormone called neurotransmitters also plays a key role in our mental state and with ailments in the body.4
The gastrointestinal system includes a number of organs, and is therefore energetically connected with most of your vertebrae and teeth. Additionally, it is also connected to the thyroid and colon organs, as well as 6 Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) meridians:
- Gallbladder meridian
- Small intestine meridian
- Stomach meridian
- Large intestine meridian
- Spleen meridian
- Liver meridian
When looking at these energetic relationships, you can see how modalities like chiropractic, acupuncture, and preventative tooth care may assist with digestive health, and how issues with the gastrointestinal system may affect these areas of the body.
Diet tips for gastrointestinal health
Since our gastrointestinal system has everything to do with food, it makes sense that eating the right kinds of foods in the right quantities at the right times is critical for digestive health and overall wellness. Diet habits that can improve gastrointestinal health include:
- Eating fruits and vegetables – contain a number of key vitamins, minerals, and nutrients
- Getting enough fiber – 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men per day recommended from fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes5
- Staying hydrated – a key element for softening stool so it passes through the digestive system more easily
- Avoiding processed foods – have minimal nutritional value
- Eliminating/reducing gluten – is a common gut-irritant
- Chewing food thoroughly – lessens the amount of work your digestive system has to do
- Eating when relaxed – relaxed environments where you can focus on eating promote healthy digestion6
- Adding probiotics – help with regulating bowel movements and healthy bacteria in your system7
Lifestyle tips for gastrointestinal health
As important as food is to gastrointestinal health, you shouldn’t overlook the impact of living a healthy lifestyle. Managing stress is particularly important when it comes to digestive health, as an excess amount can either slow down or speed up your digestive system, and lead to other issues like acid reflux, ulcers, and IBS.8
Along with stress-management techniques like breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, and expressing gratitude, it’s important to get enough exercise. Regular exercise can strengthen your GI tract and relieve constipation.9 Also keep in mind that smoking and alcohol are particularly bad for digestion, so you may want to work at eliminating these habits.
The gastrointestinal system stressor Virtual Item
The gastrointestinal system is one of the 4 core body systems that make up the 10 pillars of wellness, the other 3 being the immune system, endocrine/hormonal system, and detoxification system. Because of their importance in maintaining overall health, these 4 systems are a primary focus in both the ZYTO Balance Biosurvey and Lifestyle add-on biosurvey—which is available in the ZYTO Select and Elite software. Additionally, the Digestion add-on biosurvey provides in-depth data on the gastrointestinal system and its related Virtual Items. There is also the Foods for Wellness Biosurvey, which scans for more than 450 foods as well as other food-related stressor Virtual Items such as food additives, herbicides, and GMO foods.
In addition to being scanned as a group, digital signatures representing items within the gastrointestinal system can also be scanned in the Select and Elite. This includes the organs of the digestive system listed above and the items below that have a significant impact on digestive health:
- Amino Acids
- Candida Albicans
- Digestive Enzymes
- Food Additives
- Mental/Emotional Stress
- Probiotic Bacteria
Gastrointestinal system balancer Virtual Items
Along with other stressor Virtual Items, the gastrointestinal system and other items within this category may show up as out of range on a ZYTO scan. Balancers such as nutritional products and wellness services are then typically scanned to bring these out-of-range items back into range.
A number of product companies in the ZYTO library offer products that specifically support the gastrointestinal/digestive system. And of course, other items for which your body shows a preference may benefit the gastrointestinal system either directly or indirectly.
The emotion of grief is also strongly associated with the gastrointestinal system. A ZYTO EVOX session can help you work through grief and other emotional issues that may be putting stress on your digestive system. Addressing the emotional along with the physical aspects of health will help you better support this critical system and maintain your overall wellness.
About Seth Morris
Seth Morris is an experienced article writer with a background in marketing, Web content creation, and health research. In addition to writing and editing content for the ZYTO website and blog, he has written hundreds of articles for various websites on topics such as holistic wellness, health technology, and Internet marketing. Seth has earned Bachelor’s Degrees in Business Management as well as Literary Studies.
1. “12 Digestive System Facts About Your Digestive System.” DailyHealthPost. Dailyhealthpost.com.
2. “Your Digestive System & How it Works.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Niddk.nih.gov.
3. “Overview of Gastrointestinal Hormones.” Colorado State University. Vivo.colostate.edu.
4. Hadhazy, Adam. “Think Twice: How the Gut’s ‘Second Brain’ Influences Mood and Well-Being.” Scientific American. Scientificamerican.com.
5. Zelman, Kathleen M. “Fiber: How Much Do You Need.” WebMD. Webmd.com.
6. “5-ways to improve your digestion naturally.” The Real Food Dietitians. Therealfoodrds.com.
7. “8 Tips to Improve Your Digestive Health.” The Dr. Oz Show. Doctoroz.com.
8. “10 Steps to Build and Maintain Digestive Health.” California Dried Plums. Californiadriedplums.org.
9. “How Exercise Affects Your Digestion.” Manhattan Gastroenterology. Manhattangastroenterology.com.