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process by which food and drink are broken down into

their smallest parts so the body can use them to build and nourish cells and to provide energy. involves mixing food with digestive juices, moving it through the digestive tract, and breaking down large molecules of food into smaller molecules. Digestion begins in the mouth, when you chew and swallow, and is completed in the small intestine.


complex series of organs and glands

that processes food


system tasked to break the food

down into smaller molecules that it can process and, excrete waste.


up of the digestive tract: a series of

hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube from the mouth to the anus and other organs

that make up the digestive tract

are the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus.



mouth: The digestive process begins in the mouth. Food is partly broken down by the process of chewing and by the chemical

action of salivary enzymes; these enzymes

are produced by the salivary glands and break down starches into smaller


The pharynx facilitates the passage of the food bolus into the esophagus. The pharynx is designed to direct

the food bolus in this direction. After the moistened

food bolus is moved to the back of the mouth by the tongue, an involuntary swallowing reflex is triggered which prevents food from entering the respiratory tract

The tongue closes off the mouth,

the soft palate blocks the nose, and the larynx rises such that the epiglottis closes off the trachea. Food then moves from the pharynx into the esophagus.

esophagus: After being chewed and swallowed, the food enters the esophagus. The esophagus is a long

tube that

runs from the mouth to the stomach. It

uses rhythmic, wave-like muscle movements to force food from the throat into the stomach. This muscle movement gives us the ability to eat or drink even when we're upside-down.

At the junction of the esophagus and stomach, there is a ring-like muscle, called the lower esophageal sphincter, closing the passage between the two organs


Carbohydrates spend the least amount of time in the stomach, while protein stays in the stomach longer, and fats the longest.

Carbohydrates: The carbohydrates are broken into simpler molecules by enzymes in the saliva, in juice produced by the pancreas, and in the lining of the small intestine.

Starch: First, an enzyme in the saliva and pancreatic juice breaks the starch into molecules called maltose. Then an enzyme in the lining of the small intestine splits the maltose into glucose molecules that can be absorbed into the blood.

Glucose is carried through the bloodstream to the

liver, where it is stored or used to provide

energy for the work of the body.

Sugar: An enzyme in the lining of the small intestine digests sucrose, also known as table sugar, into glucose and fructose, which are absorbed through the intestine into the blood. Milk contains another type of sugar, lactose, which is changed into absorbable molecules by another

enzyme in the intestinal lining.

Fiber: moves through the digestive tract without being broken down by enzymes. Many foods contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves easily in water and takes on a soft, gel-like texture in the intestines. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, passes essentially unchanged

through the intestines.

Protein: Foods such as meat, eggs, and beans consist of giant molecules of protein that must be digested by enzymes before they can be used to build and repair body tissues. An enzyme in the juice of the stomach starts the digestion of swallowed protein. Then in the small intestine, several enzymes from the pancreatic juice and the lining of the intestine complete the breakdown of huge protein molecules into small molecules called amino acids. These small molecules can be absorbed through the small intestine

into the blood and then be carried to all parts of the body to
build the walls and other parts of cells.

6. Fats: Fat molecules are a rich source of energy for the body. The first step in digestion of a fat is to dissolve it into the watery content of the intestine. The bile acids produced by the liver dissolve fat into tiny droplets and allow pancreatic and

intestinal enzymes to break the large fat molecules into

smaller ones. Some of these small molecules are fatty acids and cholesterol. The bile acids combine with the fatty acids

and cholesterol and help these molecules move into the cells
of the mucosa. In these cells the small molecules are formed back into large ones, most of which pass into vessels called lymphatics near the intestine. These small vessels carry the reformed fat to the veins of the chest, and the blood carries the fat to storage depots in different parts of the body.

Vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins (A,D, E, K) are stored in the liver and fatty tissue of the body, whereas water-soluble vitamins (B and C) are not easily stored and excess amounts are flushed out in the urine.

The digested nutrients are absorbed through the intestinal walls and transported throughout the body.

Animals, for the most part, ingest their food as large, complex molecules that must be broken down into smaller molecules that can then be distributed throughout the body of every cell.

Single-celled organisms can directly take in nutrients from their outside environment. Multicellular animals, with most of their cells removed from contact directly with the outside environment, have developed specialized structures for obtaining and breaking down their


Ingestive eaters, the majority of animals, use a mouth

to ingest food. Absorptive feeders, such as tapeworms, live in a digestive system of another animal and absorb

nutrients from that animal directly through their body

wall. Filter feeders, such as oysters and mussels, collect small organisms and particles from the surrounding water. Substrate feeders, such as earthworms and termites, eat the material (dirt or wood) they burrow through. Fluid feeders, such as aphids, pierce the body of a plant or animal and withdraw fluids.

Two types of animal body plans as well as two locations for digestion to occur: Sac-like plans are found in many invertebrates, who have a single opening for food intake and the discharge of wastes. Vertebrates, the animal group humans belong to, use the more efficient tube-within-atube plan with food entering through one opening (the mouth) and wastes leaving through another (the anus).

Where the digestion of the food happens is also variable: Some animals use intracellular digestion, where food is taken into cells by phagocytosis with digestive enzymes being secreted into the phagocytic vesicles. This type of digestion occurs in sponges, coelenterates (corals, hydras and their relatives) and

most protozoans. Extracellular digestion occurs in

the opening of a digestive system, with the nutrient molecules being transferred to the blood or some

other body fluid. This more advanced type of digestion

occurs in chordates, annelids, and crustaceans.

Chemotrophs are organisms (mostly bacteria) deriving their energy from inorganic chemical reactions. Phototrophs convert sunlight energy into sugar or other organic molecules. Heterotrophs eat to obtain energy from the breakdown of organic molecules in their food.


is a muscular sac that lies between the esophagus and the small intestine in the upper abdomen.

the stomach is not the only part of your digestive

system that absorbs food but rather is a part of the

digestive system and important for churning food into a consistency that is easier to digest for the

rest of your intestines.


The stomach is J-shaped and it can expand to temporarily store food. Partial digestion of the food takes place here. The churning action of the stomach muscles physically breaks down the food. The stomach releases acids and enzymes for the chemical breakdown of food. The enzyme pepsin is responsible for protein breakdown. The stomach releases food into the small intestine in a controlled and regulated manner.


is the first portion of the stomach and is where food content passes from the esophagus into the stomach. The acids and enzymes referred to as the gastric juices are manufactured in the cardia.


stores undigested food and also the gases released

from the chemical digestion of food.


is the largest of the four parts that make up the stomach. And this is where the bulk of the partial digestion occurs.


is connected to the duodenum or the beginning of the

small intestine. The contents of the stomach move

into the small intestine via the pyloric canal.



consists mainly of the gastric glands that secrete the digestive juices. It is covered by a layer of columnar

epithelial tissue.


consists of dense connective tissue and has blood

vessels, lymphatic vessels, and nerves running through it.

The sub-mucosa supports the mucosa and allows it to move in a flexible manner during peristalsis.

Peristalsis- is the contraction and relaxation of the stomach muscles to physically breakdown food and propel it forward. These contractions are created by the muscular wall of the stomach which consists of inner circular and outer longitudinal smooth muscle. Serosa

consists of an epithelial layer and connective tissue which connects to the surrounding organs.



Mucous cells secrete the alkaline mucous for shielding the epithelium from hydrochloric acid. Parietal cells, the acid activates release of pepsin for protein digestion. The acid also kills microorganisms swallowed with the food. Chief cells secrete pepsin. G cells secrete gastrin which stimulates the secretion of hydrochloric acid.


system is to process the nutrients absorbed from the small intestine. Bile from the liver secreted into the small intestine also plays an important role in digesting fat. In addition, the liver is the bodys chemical "factory." It takes the raw materials absorbed by the intestine and makes all the various chemicals the body needs to function. It breaks down and secretes many drugs.


secretes digestive enzymes into the duodenum, the first segment of the small intestine. These enzymes break down protein, fats, and carbohydrates.

also makes insulin, secreting it directly into the bloodstream. Insulin is the chief hormone for metabolizing sugar.


stores and concentrates bile, and then releases it into the duodenum to help absorb and digest fats.


is about 20 feet long and about an inch in diameter absorb most of the nutrients from what we eat and drink

Velvety tissue lines the small intestine, which is divided into the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum.


The C-shaped first part of the small It protects the duodenal lining from the acidity of the chyme and raises the luminal pH to the optimum level for pancreatic enzyme activity

It is also the point of entry for the bile and pancreatic ducts, which penetrate the full thickness

of the duodenal wall


receives roughly digested and mixed food from the stomach and neutralizes the stomach acid. also receives bile from the galbladder and digestive enzymes from the pancreas. The combination of food, bile and enzymes are mixed with mucus and passed into the jejunum. The intermixed structure of protein, fats and carbohydrates of food is broken apart as it passes through the duodenum.


The passage that takes place between the duodenum and jejunum

The jejunum is not only second in order but is also second in length when talking of the small intestine, measuring around 8.2 feet.


The combination of food, bile, enzymes and mucus passes into the jejunum after exiting the duodenum.

The inner lining of the jejunum and the later section the ileum are lined with villi, small fingers containing

capillaries that increase the surface area that can

absorb nutrients.

The jejunum absorbs nutrients such as carbohydrates that have been broken down into simple sugars, proteins that have been broken down into amino acids and many vitamins.

Much of this transport is accomplished by an array of transporter proteins that shuttle the nutrients

from the intestines to the capillaries.


the longest and the lowest part of small intestine, coming in at eleven and a half feet.

The ileum is slightly paler in color when compared to the jejunum and mostly absorbs fatty acids and glycerol, besides glucose and amino acids.


Water, minerals and salts as well as fats and remaining nutrients are absorbed by the ileum. Where much of the initial transport of nutrients was specific, the ileum takes small amounts of water as well as the minerals and vitamins floating in it and shuttles them into the capillaries. Fats are able to pass directly from the intestines to the bloodstream.


The membrane that connects all parts of the small intestine is known as the mesentery. This membrane is richly supplied by blood vessels in the form of small capillaries which help in absorption of food.

The internal lining of the small intestine in the ileum consists of glandular epithelium which is present in the form of highly convoluted and folded microscopic structures known as microvilli


The large intestine is the second to last part of the digestive systemthe final stage of the alimentary canal is the anus in vertebrate animals. Its function is to absorb water from the remaining indigestible food matter, and then to pass useless waste material from the body. The large intestine consists of the cecum and colon. It starts in the right iliac region of the pelvis,

just at or below the right waist, where it is joined to

the bottom end of the small intestine.

From here it continues up the abdomen, then across the width of the abdominal cavity, and then it turns down, continuing to its endpoint at the anus. The large intestine is about long, which is about one-fifth of the whole length of the intestinal canal.

The large intestine takes 32 hours to finish up the

remaining processes of the digestive system. Food is not broken down any further in this stage

of digestion.

The large intestine simply absorbs vitamins that are created by the bacteria inhabiting the colon. It also absorbs water and compacts feces, and stores fecal matter in the rectum until eliminated through the anus and thus is responsible for passing along solid waste.

Cecum- The cecum marks the beginning of the large intestine and is basically a big pouch that receives waste material from the small intestine. Ascending Colon- The ascending colon runs through the abdominal cavity, upwards toward the transverse colon for approximately eight inches (20 cm).

Transverse Colon- The transverse colon is the large part of the colon that attaches the ascending colon to the descending colon by crossing the abdominal cavity. Descending Colon- The descending colon traverses inferiorly along the left abdominal wall to the pelvic region.

Rectum- The rectum is a short, muscular tube that forms the lowest portion of the large intestine and connects it to the anus. Feces collects here until pressure on the rectal walls cause nerve impulses to pass to the brain, which then sends messages to the voluntary muscles in the anus to relax, permitting expulsion.

Appendix- The appendix, also called the (veriform), is a troublesome pouch attached to the first portion of the large intestine. Digestion takes place almost continuously in a watery, slushy environment. The large intestine absorbs water from its inner contents

and stores the rest until it is convenient to dispose

of it. The appendix has no function in modern humans; however, it is believed to have been part of the digestive system in our primitive ancestors.


Peristalsis is the coordinated contraction of muscle movement to move food or waste through a tube. To simplify, food and waste particles are squeezed

through a tube-like structure by a squeezing

motion. Peristalsis takes place in the esophagus when an individual swallows food. It

also takes place in the colon as it moves solid

waste through the large intestine to be expelled from the body through the rectum.


The anus is a canal at the end of the digestive tract through which feces is expelled. It is about five inches long and is an extension of the rectum. It is only open during the expulsion of feces because it is usually kept closed by sphincter muscles, which can be relaxed at will.