The Digestive System

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by RMMSBriannaJuarez
Last updated 7 years ago

Human Anatomy

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The Digestive System

The digestive system

Mouth/Teeth—First steps in the digestive system take place in the mouthas the teeth cut, tear, and grind the food down into small enough piecesso that it can fit down the throat. Saliva is squirted into the food to moistenand soften the food. The mouth makes close to 500 milliliters of saliva each day. Saliva contains chemicals called enzymes,which break down the starches in the food. The enzyme in saliva thatbreaks down starch into sugar is called amylase.2. Tongue—A muscle that works with the food and saliva to form a "ball"that can be swallowed. Of course, the tongue also contains taste buds thathelps us tell the difference between salty, sour, sweet, and bitter foods.3. Esophagus—The esophagus is simply a transportation tube from themouth to the stomach. When we swallow, what we are really doing isclosing a trap door in our throat called the epiglottis. This sends fooddown the esophagus and prevents food from going down the trachea (orwindpipe) and into our lungs. Food moves down the esophagus by aprocess called peristalsis. Peristalsis uses layers of muscle in your esophagusand intestines. These muscles relax and contact in a wave motion topass food forward.4. Stomach—The first stop after the esophagus is the stomach. Once thefood gets to the stomach the stomach uses chemicals to try to make thefood particles tinier. These chemicals are called gastric juices and theyinclude hydrochloric acid and enzymes (chemicals that break down food).The food is moved around in the stomach and mixed with the chemicalsfor 3-4 hours. When the stomach is finished with it, the food is a creamlikeliquid call chyme. This substance is still not small enough to get intoour blood stream, and it has not yet provided the body with anything useful.Now a valve at the end of the stomach opens, sending the food pa

Liver/Gall Bladder—At this point, our food is hit with more chemicals.The liver makes a chemical called bile, and it is stored in the gall bladder.When the gall bladder mixes bile with our food, it does an important job:breaking down the fat (from milk, butter, cheeses) into tiny droplets. Thisfat will supply us with much energy later.6. Pancreas—The pancreas also adds a digestive chemical as the foodleaves the stomach. This digestive juice works on breaking down the carbohydrates(from breads, potatoes, pasta, etc.) and the proteins (frommeats, eggs, peanut butter, etc.)7. Small Intestine—The small intestine is the real hero of the digestive system.The small intestine is a tube that is about 18 feet long! This is wherethe real digestion takes place. As the food passes through, it is mixedwith the new chemicals, and is finally digested enough to be put to useby the body. Along the walls of the intestine are thousands of tiny fingerscalled villi. Blood vessels (capillaries) in the villi can absorb the tinyfood molecules and send them off to the rest of our body through theblood.8. Large Intestine—Whatever the body cannot put to use is sent to the largeintestine. Many plants, for example, contain cellulose, which cannot bedigested. The big job of the large intestine is to remove water. Water hasbeen necessary up until this point in the digestive process. Now it is nolonger needed; therefore, the water in large intestine is sent into thebloodstream. Food spends about 12 hours in the large intestine.Undigested food is called solid waste feces, and this is stored in the rectumuntil it leaves the body.

The human digestive system is a series of organs that converts food into essential nutrients that are absorbed into the body and moves the unused waste material out of the body. It is essential to good health because if the digestive system shuts down, the body cannot be nourished or rid itself of waste.


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