What are the functions of the digestive system? The parts of the digestive system, what do they do in the digestive process?
Can we control the food digestion process? How the digestive system works?
Find the answers below.
Human digestive system consists of many organs. It is a hollow tube, starting with the mouth and ending at the anus. Each organ has a specific function. All the parts of the digestive system work together to make ingestion, digestion and elimination work efficiently.
After we swallow the food, the remaining digestive process happens by itself. You do not need to do
anything else. Below you have the functions of the digestive system organs.
Mouth is the first part of the digestive system. Mouth ingests (takes in the food) and the digestion starts immediately. Teeth - Break the food to pieces by chewing. Tongue - Helps chewing evenly by turning the food in the mouth and helps in swallowing the food. Salivary glands - Secret saliva to wet the food to make chewing easy and start the digestion of carbohydrates.
Esophagus - oesophagus - food pipe It is 20 centimeters long. It connects the mouth to the stomach. When you swallow food, esophagus receives it from the mouth. It pushes the food down to the stomach by muscular contractions called peristalsis.
Stomach Stomach is the bag/ container which keeps the food while it is being broken down into usable form for the body. The cells in the stomach lining secret enzymes that help the breakdown process. After this processing, the stomach contents are pushed down to the small intestine.
Small intestine Small intestine is a 22 feet long muscular tube. It is made of three parts the duodenum, jejunum and ileum. It takes in the bile released from the liver and the enzymes by the pancreas and breaks down the food contents which arrived from the stomach. Moving food and mixing with digestive juices happens here. Some nutrients are also absorbed in the blood stream. The consistency of food is semi solid here in the small intestines and becomes liquid when bile, mucous and enzymes are mixed in it. Next it moves to the large intestine, also referred to as colon.
Large Intestine - Colon or bowel
Large intestine is a very special digestive organ. It is a 1.5 meters long muscular tube. It consists of the
1. ascending right colon, cecum,
2. the across colon,
3. the descending left colon,
4. the sigmoid colon which leads to the rectum. The large intestine processes the waste that remains after the digestive process has been done in the small intestine. It also absorbs vitamins such as vitamin K.
Pancreas Secret the digestive enzymes into the duodenum, the first part of small intestine. These enzymes break down carbohydrates, fats and protein. Pancreas also makes insulin.
Liver The main function of the liver is to process the nutrients absorbed from the small intestine. Liver also has some other functions. The bile secreted by the liver helps in digesting fat. It takes the materials absorbed by the intestine and changes them so that body can use them.
Gall bladder Stores and concentrates bile. It releases the bile into the duodenum to help in digestion and absorption of fats. When the colon functions properly, the bowel movement is easy. The waste matter after the digestive process is done is in liquid state. As it passes through the colon, water is removed and it forms into a stool. The stool contains waste matter from the foods and bacteria. Stool remains in the sigmoid colon until it gets full and it is time to send it to the rectum which may happen once or twice a day. Then the process of elimination begins.
Rectum The rectum is a 8 inch chamber between the colon and the anus. Rectum holds the stool until the evacuation happens. When stool comes into the rectum, the sensors there send a message to the brain. The brain then decides if it is the time and place for elimination. If the time and place are not right, the sphincter tightens and the rectum keeps holding the stool. The sensation goes away temporarily. If the brain decides to eliminate, the sphincters(valves) relax, and the stools are released.
Anus is the lower end, last part of the digestive tract. It is two inch long. It has two sphincters. The upper
anus lining detects if the rectal contents are solid, liquid or gas.
The internal sphincter of the anus is always tight. It holds the contents without our being aware of it, even when
we are asleep. When we get a feeling that we must go to toilet, it is the external sphincter that holds the stool until
we reach the toilet where it relaxes to release the contents.
you experience the relief after the elimination.
The functions of the digestive system are done automatically. The digestion process takes place even when you know nothing about how it works. The food digestion happens painlessly on autopilot when all the digestive system organs work as they are supposed to.
When any organ does not work properly, the
digestive problems start.
Understanding the functions of the digestive system may help you in improving digestion.