Back To Basics: What Is The Digestive System?

The human body has many complex systems. They include the respiratory system, digestive system, reproductive system, and nervous system, just to name a few. Of all those noted, none would function without the digestive system. The body needs nutrition for energy and to repair cells.  Without the digestive system, none of this is possible.

If you’ve been asking yourself “What is the digestive system?” but are still unsure of the specific process, continue reading for more information.

What is the digestive system?

The digestive system consists of the digestive tract (or the gastrointestinal tract). It is also made up of the gallbladder, liver, and pancreas. The gastrointestinal tract consists of a series of organs that are connected in a long and slightly twisting tube. It starts from the mouth and ends at the anus.

The organs which come together to form the GI tract include the mouth, stomach, esophagus,  large intestine, small intestine, and anus. The small intestine is made up of three parts: the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum. The large intestine, on the other hand, consists of the appendix,  colon, cecum, and rectum. The appendix has a pouch that is shaped like a finger. This is connected to the cecum and is followed by the colon. The rectum is located at the end of the large intestine.

Microbiome, a bacteria in the GI tract aids with the digestive process. Other organ systems like the nervous system also help the digestive process.

Why is digestion important?

Digestion is essential for the functioning of the human body. Only through this way can the body extract nutrients from food to operate properly. The body needs proteins, vitamins, minerals, fats, magnesium, etc. It also needs, among other nutrients, iron, which, according to EFSA research, helps in the creation of red blood cells which protect the body against diseases.

The digestive system also breaks these nutrients into absorbable parts which the body can use to maintain itself. At this point, it’s worth noting that if inflammation occurs in any of your digestive organs, it can affect the entire digestive process and cause discomfort.

For example, Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which happens when the walls of the bowel or intestines are inflamed, can cause stomach aches, constipation, wind, and diarrhea. In this case, a healthy diet that includes high-quality anti-inflammatory agents such as turmeric supplements can help reduce the symptoms.

How does food move through the GI tract?

Food moves through the GI tract via a process called peristalsis. The movement is afforded by the large hollow organs of the GI tract. These organs have a layer of muscle that allows their walls to move.

So essentially, food starts from the mouth, where it is mixed with saliva. This then goes to the esophagus where peristalsis begins. The food then moves to the stomach where it is mixed with digestive juices. The mixture, called chyme, is then deposited in the small intestine. In the small intestine, peristalsis occurs again.

The mixture is further broken down, and nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream. The rest are then sent to the large intestine. In this organ, water is absorbed and peristalsis pushes the solid waste to the rectum. It is then passed through the anus in a bowel movement.

What happens to the digested food?

The digested food is absorbed into the bloodstream as nutrients. The circulatory system aids in the transportation of these nutrients to parts of the body where it is needed, either for storage or usage. The blood then transports amino acids, simple sugars, glycerol, vitamins, and salts to the liver. In this place, nutrients are stored to be distributed to the body for later use when needed.



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