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Transcript of Digestive System
behind this frame! Double click to crop it if necessary (cc) photo by Metro Centric on Flickr (cc) photo by Franco Folini on Flickr (cc) photo by jimmyharris on Flickr (cc) photo by Metro Centric on Flickr Liver The first step in the digestive process happens before we even taste food. Just by smelling that homemade apple pie or thinking about how delicious that ripe tomato is going to be, you start salivating — and the digestive process begins in preparation for that first bite. Food is our fuel, and its nutrients give our bodies' cells the energy and substances they need to operate. But before food can do that, it must be digested into small pieces the body can absorb and use. About the Digestive System
Almost all animals have a tube-type digestive system in which food enters the mouth, passes through a long tube, and exits as feces (poop) through the anus. The smooth muscle in the walls of the tube-shaped digestive organs rhythmically and efficiently moves the food through the system, where it is broken down into tiny absorbable atoms and molecules. During the process of absorption, nutrients that come from the food (including carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals) pass through channels in the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream. The blood works to distribute these nutrients to the rest of the body. The waste parts of food that the body can't use are passed out of the body as feces. By the time food is ready to leave the stomach, it has been processed into a thick liquid called chyme. A walnut-sized muscular valve at the outlet of the stomach called the pylorus keeps chyme in the stomach until it reaches the right consistency to pass into the small intestine. Chyme is then squirted down into the small intestine, where digestion of food continues so the body can absorb the nutrients into the bloodstream. The small intestine is made up of three parts:
The duodenum, the C-shaped first part.
The jejunum, the coiled midsection.
The ileum, the final section that leads into the large intestine.
The inner wall of the small intestine is covered with millions of microscopic finger-like projections called villi. The villi are the vehicles through which nutrients can be absorbed into the body. The liver (located under the ribcage in the right upper part of the abdomen), the gallbladder (hidden just below the liver), and the pancreas (beneath the stomach) are not part of the alimentary canal, but these organs are essential to digestion. The liver produces bile, which helps the body absorb fat. Bile is stored in the gallbladder until it is needed. The pancreas produces enzymes that help digest proteins, fats, and carbs. It also makes a substance that neutralizes stomach acid. These enzymes and bile travel through special channels (called ducts) directly into the small intestine, where they help to break down food. The liver also plays a major role in the handling and processing of nutrients, which are carried to the liver in the blood from the small intestine. From the small intestine, undigested food (and some water) travels to the large intestine through a muscular ring or valve that prevents food from returning to the small intestine. By the time food reaches the large intestine, the work of absorbing nutrients is nearly finished. The large intestine's main function is to remove water from the undigested matter and form solid waste that can be excreted.
The large intestine is made up of three parts: The cecum is a pouch at the beginning of the large intestine that joins the small intestine to the large intestine. This transition area expands in diameter, allowing food to travel from the small intestine to the large. The appendix, a small, hollow, finger-like pouch, hangs at the end of the cecum. Doctors believe the appendix is left over from a previous time in human evolution. It no longer appears to be useful to the digestive process. The colon extends from the cecum up the right side of the abdomen, across the upper abdomen, and then down the left side of the abdomen, finally connecting to the rectum. The colon has three parts: the ascending colon; the transverse colon, which absorb fluids and salts; and the descending colon, which holds the resulting waste. Bacteria in the colon help to digest the remaining food products. The rectum is where feces are stored until they leave the digestive system through the anus as a bowel movement. Every morsel of food we eat has to be broken down into nutrients that can be absorbed by the body, which is why it takes hours to fully digest food. In humans, protein must be broken down into amino acids, starches into simple sugars, and fats into fatty acids and glycerol. The water in our food and drink is also absorbed into the bloodstream to provide the body with the fluid it needs.