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Human Digestive System


What is the Digestive System?

The mouth, pharynx (throat), stomach, oesophagus, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus are all parts of the digestive system. Salivary glands, the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas are also included since they produce digestive juices and enzymes that enable the body to break down food and liquids.

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Our digestive tract is specially designed to do its task of converting food into the nutrients and energy needed to survive. Once that is completed, it conveniently organises the waste products, or stool, for elimination when we have bowel movements.

Importance of Digestion

Digestion is essential because our body needs the nutrients from the food we consume and the liquids we drink to keep healthy and function correctly. The nutrients in the food and drinks we consume are broken down and absorbed by our digestive system for essential activities, including cell growth, repair, and energy production. Carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, lipids, water, and minerals, are examples of nutrients.

Organs of the Digestive System

The main organs of the digestive system are the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus. The oral cavity, including the parts of the mouth, teeth, tongue, and palate, serves as the opening to the digestive system and is the beginning of the alimentary canal. The pancreas, gallbladder, and liver also support them in their process.

  • Mouth:

The digestive system starts in the mouth. It is surrounded by the lips and cheeks, while the upper jaw and lower jaw make up the interior of the mouth. The tongue moves the food from our mouth into the throat and oesophagus as we swallow. Our saliva breaks down the meal into a form the body can easily absorb and utilise.
  • Oesophagus:

When we swallow, food travels from the mouth to the oesophagus, which is situated in the throat close to the trachea (windpipe). Food enters the stomach by a process called peristalsis, which involves a sequence of muscle contractions in the oesophagus.
  • Stomach:

The stomach is a hollow structure that serves as a “container” for food as it is combined with stomach enzymes. The breakdown process is carried out by strong acids and potent enzymes secreted by cells lining the stomach lining. After sufficient processing, the stomach’s contents are eventually transferred into the small intestine.
  • Small intestine:

The small intestine is a 10-foot-long, extremely thin tube component of the lower gastrointestinal system. The liquid leftover from the digestion of food passes on to the large intestine (colon) after the nutrients have been absorbed, and it has travelled through the small intestine.
  • Large intestine:

This is about a five-foot-long tube that is thick and substantial. It contains symbiotic bacteria that assist in the breakdown of wastes to obtain more micronutrients and absorb water.
  • Rectum:

The rectum at the end of the large intestine is where waste items are moved in to be eliminated from the body as stool. It is kept as semi-solid faeces in the rectum and eventually passes from the body through the anal canal during defecation.

Conditions and Disorders

The digestive system can be affected by short-term and long-term issues or chronic diseases and disorders. It can be a symptom of a more severe problem that calls for diagnosis and treatment by a doctor. Constipation, diarrhoea, and occasional heartburn are all frequent health issues. Consult a healthcare provider if you commonly experience these digestive problems.

Care of the Digestive System

Always ask your healthcare practitioner what you should do, and take medicine if you have a health condition to stay healthy and manage it. The general guidelines for maintaining a healthy digestive system are as follows:

  • Drink more water
  • Exercise
  • Practice stress management
  • Consume a fibre-rich balanced diet
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol
  • Mindful eating habits
  • Consume more foods with probiotics or take probiotic supplements

Stay tuned to BYJU’S Biology for more information.

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