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The digestive process starts the moment the nose catches an aroma of food wafting through the air. This sense initiates a buildup of saliva in the mouth. Once a morsel of food enters the mouth, it begins the hours-long process of food digestion. It may seem like a straightforward process, but digestion involves a variety of organs, enzymes, hormones, and interactions in the body. Also known as the gastrointestinal tract, the digestive system is 30 feet long, and it takes an average healthy person about 40 hours to fully process food, from eating to elimination.

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1. Hunger

Hunger is the result of the brain and the digestive system interacting with each other. Once the stomach has burned up the food and completed its part of digestion, blood sugar and essential hormone levels begin to drop. Ghrelin, also known as a “hunger hormone,” is produced by the stomach and signals the hypothalamus in the brain that the body needs food. The vagus nerve serves as the line of communication between the brain and the stomach. The hypothalamus then releases a very abundant peptide called neuropeptide Y that stimulates appetite.

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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.