How the Digestive System Works

The digestive system is one of the main functions of the body, working together to make life possible. It is composed of the digestive tract which is a series of hollow organs that are joined by a long twisting tube starting from the mouth to the anus. It is also helped by the other organs to aid in the proper digestion of food.

Importance of the digestive system

The body requires essential nutrients in order to function properly. This can be acquired from food that we eat. But in order for the body to get the essential nutrients out of the food eaten, they must be broken down into small pieces and prepare them for absorption. This is essentially what the digestive system does. It breaks down food such as bread, fish, meat and vegetables into small pieces and in a form that the body can absorb as nourishment.

Process of digestion

The process of digestion involves breaking down food and mixing it with the body’s digestive juices. It starts from the mouth where food is being chewed into small pieces and ends up in the small intestine where it is readied for extraction after the nutrients have been taken out.

A large portion of the digestive system is composed of the large hollow organs of the digestive tract. These organs contain a layer of muscle that enables the hollow walls to move. This movement allows the food to move from one organ to another and makes it possible to mix the food with the digestive juices. The muscle action is likened to an ocean wave that travels to the muscle. As the hollow organs narrow, food and liquid are being propelled further down the digestive tract slowly and into each of the digestive organs.

The action begins when a person swallows food. This is then followed by the action of the digestive tract in moving the food further into the digestive system. This starts off the involuntary action of the digestive system. The swallowed food then enters the esophagus which is connected from the throat to the stomach. The esophagus contains a muscle called the esophageal sphincter which acts as a gate valve, allowing the swallowed food to enter and go further down the stomach.

The stomach has three main functions. It stores up the food,mixing them up along with the digestive juices, and then emptying the contents down to the small intestine. The digestive juices coming from the pancreas, liver and the intestines then mixes with the food and is broken down. Nutrients from the digested contents of the stomach are then absorbed through the intestinal walls as they move toward the small intestine. What remains as undigested food are further propelled toward the colon, where the waste products will remain until they are excreted out of the body through bowel movement.