Starch Digestion Warm greetings to you all, My deepest apologies for the delay in this newsletter but... The "flu" had me on my knees and I stayed off work for a few days. This, I suppose is part of "the pleasures" of winter (sic). Today lets see that happens to starch on its journey into the digestive tract. Starch digestion begins in the mouth with the action of the enzyme ptyalin, which converts starches into sugar during mastication and insalivation. The salivary secretions accompany the food to the stomach and salivary digestion of starches continues in the stomach for a long time, if the food was eaten under correct conditions. If ptyalin is the only agent in the body capable of initiating starch digestion (and this is not certain) or whether it is simply the body's first opportunity to initiate starch digestion, we must not discard its importance. The chewing process in the mouth should mix food with saliva, but people have a tendency to swallow the mass too quickly to permit the enzyme to complete its action. This necessitates the continuation of the salivary action in the stomach. It is important that starches be eaten dry, not moist. So, we should eat steamed or baked potatoes dry rather than in potato soup. The eating of liquids with starches promotes the tendency to swallow moist starch without thorough mastication, insalivation and emulsification, processes that are particularly needed for the digestion of starches. Drinking liquids or eating liquidy foods softens the food artificially and may cause us to eat more food than if we had eaten it dry. Drinking at meals also prevents thorough mastication and insalivation of the food. If the ptyalin is destroyed or its action is inhibited and the digestion of starches is interrupted, the partially digested starch proceeds to the duodenum, where further starch-splitting enzymes are secreted. Starch that escapes digestion in the stomach, may later be acted upon by pancreatic and intestinal enzymes, provided too much fermentation has not already occurred. It is also very possible that the interrupted gastric digestion may never be completed. Ptyalin requires either an alkaline or neutral medium. Even even a mild acid destroys ptyalin. If fruit Acids, or any acids are taken with carbohydrates, especially with such foods as potatoes, beans, bananas or dates, digestion will be inhibited or prevented and fermentation may occur. Oxalic acid diluted to 1 part in 10.000 completely arrests the action of ptyalin. Significant amounts of oxalic acid are contained in rhubarb, spinach, Swiss chard, and beet greens. The acetic acid in a teaspoonful of vinegar can suspend salivary digestion. Tannic acid (in coffee & tea) inhibits starch acids, as do drug acids. The combination of citric, malic and oxalic acids in tomatoes (which are released and intensified by cooking) interferes drastically with starch digestion. Fermentation frequently does occur as a result of eating acids with carbohydrates (cereal or bread with orange juice) and contribute to great difficulty in digesting starches. When foods are eaten in such incompatible mixtures, and the efficiency of digestive enzymes are inhibited, it is subjected to decomposition in the digestive tract. If the digestive enzymes cannot perform their intended functions of breaking down or hydrolyzing the food (adding water from the body's reserve supply) bacterial decomposition may occur, resulting in fermentation and the production of alcohol and acetic acid. Sugar, particularly, will readily ferment into alcohol, especially when combined with acids or proteins. Natural combinations of citric acid or malic acid or other natural fruit acids combined in the whole fruit with fructose do not cause fermentation unless eaten with starches. Alcohol, acetic acids and putrefying substances are byproducts of decomposition. Putrefaction may be defined as the decomposition ( as opposed to digestion ) of protein matter by micro-organism, producing malodorous and toxic substances. Fermentation is the decomposition of sugar & starches and their conversion by microorganism into carbon dioxide, alcohol and acetic acid. Digestion puts food in a solution but fermentation disintegrates it. Persistent adherence to food combining principals has been known to reduce or even eliminate many digestive, nasal, skin and other problems. It is obvious that elimination of incompatible food combinations is a giant step in the right direction. Efficient digestion and good health can be possible only when we eat in such a way as to offer the least hindrance to the work of digestion. Food for thought isn't it? Until next week, Greetings from The Crazy Nut Team.