20 Nov Digestion is essential for converting food into nutrients
Our human body consists of many complex systems that allow us to function well. There are 5 different systems which are – respiratory system, circulatory system, muscular system, skeletal system and digestive system. Today we’ll be focusing on the digestive system which helps to breakdown food into smaller and smaller components, until they can be adsorbed and assimilated into the body.
The digestive system has a GI tract or digestive tract that is a series of hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube from the mouth to the anus. These organs consist of the mouth, pharynx (throat), esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus. The liver, pancreas and the gallbladder are also the solid organs of the digestive system.
Starting with the mouth at the beginning of the digestive tract, it helps to produces many enzymes to begin the process of digestion, amylases for carbohydrates lipases to start fat digestion and other enzymes produces from our salivary glands. These help to break down the food in our mouth and travel down our throat and into the esophagus. After we swallow, peristalsis helps to push the food down into our stomach as no digestion takes place at this stage. After food enters the stomach, the stomach muscles help to mix the food and liquid with the digestive juices. At this stage, the stomach contracts periodically, churning food to enhance digestion.
Moving on the small intestine, it consists of three parts. The first part is called the duodenum. The jejunum is the middle and ileum is at the end. The duodenum helps to accomplish a good deal of chemical digestion as well as a small amount of nutrient absorption. The main function of the jejunum and ileum is to finish the chemical digestion and absorb nutrients along with water and vitamins for the body. Followed by the large intestine, it includes the appendix, cecum, colon and rectum. These 4 components helps to achieve the 4 main function of the large intestine which are the recovery of water and electrolytes, formation and storage of faeces and fermentation of some of the indigestible food matter by bacteria. Lastly, the rectum stores faeces until it pushes the faeces out of the anus during a bowel movement. Overall, the small intestine absorbs most of the nutrients in your food, and the circulatory systems will pass them on to other parts of the body to store or use. Our blood also carries simple sugars, amino acids, glycerol, and some vitamins and salts to the liver. Our liver stores, processes and delivers nutrients to the rest of the body when needed.
In order for the digestive process to run smoothly, our hormones and nerves have to work together to help control the digestive process. The cells lining the stomach and small intestine make and release hormones that control how the digestive system works. These hormones will inform the body to make digestive juices and send signals to the brain telling us that we are hungry or full. The nerves that connect the central nervous stems (the brains and spinal cord) to the digestive system and control the functions. For example, when you see or smell food, the brain sends a signal that will cause the salivary glands to ‘make our mouth water’ to prepare us for eating.
In conclusion, the digestive system is really important as our body requires the nutrients from food and drink to work properly and stay healthy. Our food contains proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and water that provides nutrients for our body. If any part of our digestive system malfunctions, it will cause the body would lose the ability to absorb nutrients, store fat and regulate blood sugars. It will lead to weigh gain or in serious cases, cancer or death. Hence, we should always ensure that we eat a high-fiber diet, minimize food with high levels of fat content and drink plenty of water to get our digestive system working properly and healthily.