The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is commonly referred to as the gut or the digestive tract. It is essentially a long tube surrounded by smooth muscle and lined by cells and glands embedded in a mucous membrane.
The job of the gut is to process the food ingested through the mouth, bringing it to where it is eventually digested and absorbed into the bloodstream. The excess waste products produced after these processes are then excreted out of the body through the anal canal.
There are numerous organs of digestion — the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, and anus — that all lie within the tube (gut/GI tract). Outside the tube, there are three organs of digestion: the gallbladder, liver, and pancreas.
The gut is essentially lined by a single row of columnar cells that serve two basic functions: 1) as the gatekeeper, allowing nutrients to enter into the body, and 2) as an impermeable barrier to keep toxins out. A disruption in this simple barrier is suggested to be the root cause of many chronic diseases.
Dysfunction of the digestive system is one of the major underlying causes of many chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis, allergies, and mood disorders.
At the root of these diseases are imbalances in nutrition, digestion, absorption, bacterial disruption, and intestinal permeability that all play a role in the function of the gastrointestinal tract and the health of the entire body.
In other words, a healthy gut is essential to your health!
Learn more: GI Issues (General) and Heartburn, GERD, Low Stomach Acid (Hypochlorhydria).