Digestive System

Human anatomy > Digestive System

The importance of the human digestive system can be basically seen in the process that it performs inside our body. The best place to start is by learning and understanding the parts, functions and the processes that undergo within the digestive system.

Digestion is generally the process where food is broken down into an absorbable form so that it can be used by the body. People are seldom aware whenever their digestive system works properly. Man is believed to have a digestive tract that measures from twelve to fourteen feet. It begins with the mouth and ends in the anus. This long tube is subdivided into different compartments, and each has specific functions and responsibilities.

Digestive System

Digestion basically commences in the mouth. The teeth and tongue masticate or break down the food. Your saliva aids this process by producing liquid enzymes that will further break down the food into finer forms. Saliva is a tasteless and watery liquid that moistens the food that is chewed by the mouth. It often instigates the process of chemical digestion. The parts that are responsible in producing saliva are the salivary glands. Saliva generally contains a specific enzyme that stimulates the breakdown process of sugars and starches. It contains amylase, which is an enzyme that kindles the chemical digestion of several complex carbohydrates.

Once food is chewed and is softened, the tongue pushes it down to the throat to be ingested. During ingestion, a small tissue known as epiglottis helps the food from getting into the wind pipe.  The food will then pass through the long tube called the esophagus.

The esophagus is a muscle-filled tube which connects the mouth to the stomach. The esophagus transports the food to the stomach through a series of muscular contractions called as peristalsis. Peristalsis refers to a wave-like contraction of muscles in the esophagus, which is responsible in pushing the food through the digestive tract.

As you continuously swallow food, it then passes through the esophagus towards the stomach. The human stomach is a sac-like digestive organ that has walls which are essentially made of several layers of muscles and are specifically arranged in different angles. Once food enters the stomach, the muscle contraction inside it will start to turn, twist and churn the swallowed food. The stomach will now produce gastric juices that will be mixed with the food. These body juices include several enzymes that stimulate protein digestion. The food will continually be churned and mixed until it forms a thick-like paste called chyme. This thick paste will then pass through the stomach to the small intestine.

The small intestine is a long, coiled digestive organ which measures 1 inch in diameter. It measures approximately 7.5 to 9 meters in length. This is where digestion is fully competed. The walls of the small intestine will produce enzymes essential for completing the digestion of the three most basic nutrients needed by the body. These nutrients are then absorbed by the body.
Leftover materials are then carried to the large intestine or colon. Water and salts are absorbed in the colon, and the other remaining wastes are eliminated from the body through the anus.

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