How The Digestive System Works

In this article you will learn the mechanics of how and why the digestive system works as it does. Digestion plays an exceedingly crucial role in the function of the human body. The digestive system comprises of a digestive tract which is a drawn-out and hollowed series of organs which begins at the mouth and goes all the way to its final stage which is in the anus.

The digestive system consists of numerous organs such as the mouth, stomach, esophagus, large intestine also known as the colon, small intestine, rectum and the anus. These organs are seamed internally by a membrane called mucosa. The mucosa secretes a fluid that aids in the Digestion system of food. Food particles are broken down and forced along the tract by way of muscles.

Two additional organs within the human body which play a prominent part in digestion are the liver and the pancreas. The digestive fluids which these organs release enter the intestine by means of small ducts. The digestive fluid developed by the liver is held in the gall bladder before arriving at the intestine. Some organs belonging to the circulatory system, in addition to the nervous system, are associated with the digestive functioning of the body.

Why Is Digestion So Important?

The conventional food that we eat cannot be digested in its original form by the body. The food needs to be broken down into smaller and more complex molecules of necessary nutrients by the various organs within the body. It is then absorbed by the blood and carried to the various cells within the body to provide energy. This entire process whereby the food that we eat is converted into energy which can then be utilized by the body is called digestion.

The Whole Process Of Digestion

Digestion is the means by which the food that is consumed gets mixed with digestive fluids released by various organs. It is then broken down into smaller molecules in the course of traveling through the digestive tract. Ideally, it could be said that digestion of the food starts in the mouth where you chew the food and ends in the small intestine.

Peristalsis

The digestive tract comprises of hollow organs whose walls are layered with muscles which gives them their ability to move. These walls, with the aid of the muscles, move the food and fluids that are consumed through to the various organs that constitute the digestive system, so that they become effectively mixed with the digestive fluids and then broken down into finer molecules. This particular muscular action of the walls is known as peristalsis. One may rightly compare this action on a smaller scale to the ocean waves. Such wave like action of the muscular walls enables the food specks and fluid to get distributed throughout the digestive system.

The process of digestion starts in the mouth as we swallow food or drink liquids. That in turn is the only voluntary action in the entire process of digestion. After you swallow, the remaining process is completely involuntary as the nerves then take control of the necessary actions.

The Esophagus

The esophagus is then the next point where the swallowed food goes. This is the organ which connects the throat and the stomach. The esophageal sphincter is a circular like muscle which is positioned at the junction where the esophagus and the stomach meet. Remaining in a closed condition otherwise, it is responsible for allowing food to enter the stomach.

The Stomach

The stomach then takes control as the food enters it by way of the esophagus. The stomach’s first duty is to store the food and liquid that is swallowed. This is accomplished by the relaxing action of the upper part of the stomach resulting in the storage of a large quantity of food and liquids. Following this stage the food and liquid is combined in with the digestive fluids that are secreted in the stomach by muscular action. This occurs in the lower part of the stomach. The third and final task of the stomach is to gradually release the mixture into the small intestine.

There are certain conditions and or variables which must be taken into consideration when discussing the process of food passing from the stomach into the small intestine, namely the type of food that goes in, the entire process of the peristalsis action of the stomach and small intestine as was discussed earlier. The fact is that fats are retained in the stomach for the longest period of time while on the other hand carbohydrates are digested much sooner. Proteins also take an extended amount of time to digest. The digestive fluids secreted by the pancreas, liver and intestine aid the food to dissolve further and they are gradually mixed thoroughly and absorbed further to continue the digestion process.