Free Essay on Digestive System

Does anyone ever wonder what happens to food once is leaves the fork and enters the mouth? Most likely no one does but it is all very important to the body that everything works in the digestive system. From basic functions, the path and diseases of the digestive system are vital to daily life. So let’s take a journey through the digestive system.

There are many functions of the digestive system, which is also called the alimentary canal or the gastrointestinal tract. All the work begins when food enters the mouth or the oral cavity. Here the teeth, tongue and digestive enzymes break the food down. The food is broken into different types of energy sources that parts of the body can use. The types of energy sources are amino acids, glucose, triglycerides which are broken into fatty acids and glycerols. Once this is completed the next step is to have the energy sources absorb into the bloodstream and sent to different places in the body. An example of how these nutrients are used is when food is broken into amino acid, they then travel to cells. Here the cells catabolize the nutrients to release energy that is stored. After the nutrients have been absorbed the final phase is ridding the body of waste materials that are not used or needed. This process takes place in the large intestine.

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The solid waste that passes through the anus is called feces. Other waste would be urine which will pass through the urethra. These are just the basic functions of the digestive system. The path will involve a lot more.

To start the digestive path, food will enter the mouth or oral cavity. Here the teeth will begin to chew the food into smaller pieces. As stated earlier the food is broken down from a solid form to a mushy form and it goes to the pharynx. The pharynx, or better known as the throat, is common passage for food and air to travel. After leaving the pharynx the food then travels through the esophagus to the stomach. The stomachs main purpose is to prepare the food for the small intestine. The food will only leave the stomach when it is chemically ready to. The process of digesting the food in the stomach will take 1-4 hours depending on the food consumed. The pyloric sphincter controls when the food will pass on to the small intestine.

Rugae, the lining of the stomach, produce an enzyme called pepsin and hydrochloric acid. These enzymes help to digest food. When leaving the stomach the pyloric sphincter opens and allows the digested food to pass to the small intestine. The small intestine has three parts: duodenum, jejunum, and ileum. The duodenum receives bile from the liver and gall bladder plus food from the stomach. The enzymes and bile breakdown the food more to enter into the jejunum. The jejunum attaches to the last part of the small intestine called the ileum. There are villi on the lining of the small intestine that will absorb nutrients into lymph vessels and the bloodstream. The large intestine is the last stop in the digestive train is the large intestine. The large intestine has six parts: cecum, ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, sigmond colon and rectum. All of the fluid waste from digestion are received here. The large intestine absorbs water through its walls to make solid feces. After the absorption of the water the defecation process can begin. The solid feces will leave the body through the anus. Waste that come from the kidneys will leave through the urethra. After all this hard work the process will begin again when food enters the mouth.

The process of digestion seems very simple and easy but there are some individuals that have complications with digesting food. There are several diseases that affect the digestive system. Some common problems are ulcers, hemorrhoids, nausea, anorexia, constipation, and diarrhea. There are other diseases that can lead to very serious problems. A disease called Crohn disease which affects any part of the gastrointestinal tract causes a variety of problems. Crohn disease is chronic inflammation on the intestinal tract. It may cause diarrhea, cramping and fever with inflammation. The etiology is unknown and the treatment will generally involve drugs and/or surgery to remove trouble areas. Another disease is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This disease causes fluids and solids from the mouth to return to the stomach. One affect of GERD is heartburn. The hydrochloric acid from the stomach will cause a burning sensation in the esophagus called heartburn. There is drug treatment for GERD, which would included acid-suppressive agents.

There are three other organs that play a role in the digestion process. The liver, gallbladder, and pancreas all help in absorbing nutrients and proper digestion. The liver produces bile, a yellowish-brown substance that combines with bilirubin that gives feces it brown color. The gallbladder stores the bile for later use. The bile from the gallbladder and the pancreatic juices from the pancreas will go the duodenum to break down the food. The pancreas produces insulin that will help get sugar into the cells for energy.

All of these organs together make digesting our food possible. The digestive process keeps up going daily. If it were to fail the body would lose all of its energy to move about. It is very important to eat healthy and exercise to keep this bodily function normal and well.

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