Digestive System Facts
The human digestive system is the parts of the body that are involved in turning food and drink into smaller molecules that can be absorbed into the bloodstream and carried by cells to other body systems. Digestion itself is a process by which the molecules of food and drink are made ready to be utilized by the body. The body then uses these molecules to build and to nourish the cells of the body, and to provide energy for the body’s functions.
The digestive system does three things: it mixes food,it moves the food through the digestive tract, and it also initiates a chemical breakdown of larger molecules of food into smaller more useable molecules. The digestive process begins with your mouth when you take in the food and drink, and ends with the small intestine where the waste products exit the body.
In between the mouth and the small intestine is the rest of the digestive system; the digestive tract and other organs that also aid in digestion. The digestive tract is made up of several hollow organs that are joined in a long, twisting tube starting at the mouth and ending at the anus. The digestive system includes: the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum and the anus.
Your body has organs that play a part in the digestive process without being part of the digestive system. These organs are the tongue, the glands in the mouth that secrete saliva, the pancreas, the liver and also the gallbladder. There are also other sections of other body system that play a vital role in the digestive process such as blood and nerves.
The digestive system moves the food and liquid along the digestive tract by a wave-like movement called peristalsis.
When you take that first bite of food or first gulp of liquid a voluntary process begins called swallowing. The rest of the movement through the system changes to a involuntary movement.
The food and liquid follow the tract in orderly fashion being moved along by these involuntary movements.
The first area that the food and liquid pass through is the esophagus, then the stomach. The stomach has 3 functions to complete in the digestive process – it stores, mixes and empties food and liquid.
After the stomach has completed these three functions it empties the contents into the small intestine. The juices of the pancreas, liver, and intestine are used to further digest the food, and then the contents of the small intestine are mixed and pushed further where it is further digested.
The digested nutrients are absorbed through the intestine walls and the waste products (the parts not used by the body), including undigested parts of food (fiber, and older cells shed by the mucosa) then move into the colon. These products remain in the colon for one or two days until they are expelled by a bowel movement.