Food – Digestion

The human body is an amazing miracle that only an omniscient being could create. We each are responsible for the maintenance of our bodies such that we may operate to our fullest potential. Diet is one of the most important ways we revitalize ourselves physically. In order to understand our nutritional needs it is important to understand the intricate workings of the digestive system.

God designed our bodies to partake of a vegetarian diet. The differences between ourselves and carnivores, such as, lions, are pertinent differences that uphold the idea that we are still intended for a diet of plant life. The way by which we obtain food in itself is evidence of this. Humans have hands and fingers, including an opposable thumb, which are excellent for picking foods and, if you have a green opposable thumb, planting! Lions, on the other hand, would find this difficult as they have paws with sharp, retractable claws which are designed to fell prey and tear flesh.

The difference in diet is supported by the digestive differences between the herbivore and carnivore. Most people know that digestion begins in the mouth with saliva. But another structural variation between humans and lions that differentiates how we digest our food is the teeth. Carnivores have sharp, pointed teeth necessary for tearing flesh, where humans have flat teeth for grinding fruits, vegetables, and grains. There is also a difference in the saliva produced. A human’s saliva contains salivary amylase which begins the break down of complex carbohydrates found in plants. So chew well! The lion has no salivary amylase in his saliva, but he certainly has the intestinal juices to make up for it!

Lions have a chemical substance in their stomachs called hydrochloric acid. Humans have this also, but our carnivore friends certainly have the lion’s share. They have ten times the amount of this acid in their stomachs! This is very necessary, however, as meat is more difficult to digest. Carbohydrates and plant proteins are much easier on our stomachs as they do not require such high levels of hydrochloric acid to digest.

Humans have intestines that extend 24 to 26 feet in length! Imagine the convolution that is required to make room just for our intestines! The length is pertinent though. It allows for the time needed to digest our food and allow our bodies to absorb the nutrients we require to function properly. A lion does not need such a long intestinal corridor. In fact it would be quite harmful since the flesh ingested would putrefy in the body’s warm environment. A lion’s intestines, in contrast, average around 8 feet in length to allow for quick removal of the food ingested.

As we consider these few differences between our bodies and the lion’s, it is easy to see that we were built for different diets. In studying Genesis 1:29 and Genesis 3:17 our Creator has spelled out for us the diet He recommends for His most beloved creation. How wonderful that our Heavenly Father is so concerned for our health!