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The Digestive System and How We Digest Food and Liquids

Digestive SystemTo understand digestive system and digestive disorder we must understand the workings of our bodies. Everything in the digestive system is involved in the processing of the food and liquids that we consume into useable molecules. When all of the parts of the digestive system are working correctly the body is able to receive the molecules from the food that can then be turned into energy for fuel and nutrients that are used for cell growth and cell maintenance.

When a part or parts of the digestive system don't work properly, then the body has trouble getting the energy or cell nutrients for growth, which results in disease or destructive conditions. Disease and conditions that impair the process of digestion can result in diseases and conditions of other systems in the body as a result of faulty digestion.

The digestive system breaks down the food we take in, in two ways: by mechanical digestion (chewing and churning) or by chemical digestion (enzymes). The digestion process breaks down the food into substances (molecules) that the cells of the body can absorb and use. The mouth, stomach and small intestines all are involved in the breaking down of food.

Digestive System

Nasal Cavity and Mouth:

We smell food and salivate, so the nose and mouth are connected in the first step of the process of digestion. When we have disease in the nasal passages we are prevented from smelling food which decreases the amount of salivation that goes on in the mouth. The mouth is important to the digestion process because that is where the food and liquids enter the digestive system. The mouth needs to be able to tell the difference between foods that are at the right temperature and foods that are too hot or too cold to go down the esophagus. It is also suppose to chew up the food so that pieces that are too big for the esophagus are not swallowed. The teeth are an important structure within the mouth that need to be working properly in order to start the process of breaking up the food we eat.

The Esophagus:

This is the tube that moves the food from the mouth to the stomach.

The Stomach:

Once in the stomach the food is partially broken down into a liquid called, "chyme". The stomach both stores the food and moves it to the small intestine.

The Pancreas (behind the stomach):

The pancreas releases digestive enzymes into the small intestine.

The Small and Large intestines:

The large intestine absorbs any excess water from chyme so that the body can use this water. The large intestine is made up of 6 parts: ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, sigmoid colon, the cecum, and the rectum.

The small intestine is made up of 3 sections: the ileum, the upper part, and the jejunum. The lining of the small intestine has the ability to secrete a hormone called, "secretin". This hormone stimulates the pancreas to produce the digestive enzymes.

The Liver:

The liver has several functions. It produces substances that break down the fats we eat, converts glucose to glycogen, and produces urea (the main ingredient in our urine). It also makes certain amino acids, and filters harmful substances from the blood, it can also store vitamins and minerals and maintain the proper level of glucose in our blood. The liver also produces cholesterol. So, the liver has a many functions part of which is a function of the digestive system.

The Gall bladder:

The gall bladder stores bile and bile concentrate. Bile is used in the digestive process to emulsify fats and neutralizes acids in partly digested food.

The Rectum:

The rectum is at the end of the descending colon and is where the waste products (unused portion of the food and liquids we consume) are exited from the body and the digestive system.

There you have a listing of all of the parts of the digestive system. You can see that each has its own function and that when a part does not function properly due to damage, or disease that the digestive system is in serious trouble.

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