digestive system

digestive system
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  • I wonder how my food is digested....
  • First, food is mechanically digested by chewing. Once the food is broken into smaller pieces, amylase, an enzyme found in saliva, begins chemical digestion by breaking down starches into sugar. Then, the food is pushed to the back of the throat with the tongue, and swallowed. The epiglottis covers the trachea so that food cannot advance into the airways, and the food travels down the esophagus from the pharynx to the stomach.
  • The food then passes through the sphincter, and travels to the stomach. The three overlapping layers of smooth muscle contract to continue mechanical digestion. An enzyme, known as pepsin, aids in the process of chemical digestion of protein. Cells in the lining of the stomach begin to secrete mucus to help prevent damage from pepsin and acid, and some substances, such as alcohol or aspirin, are absorbed. The walls of the stomach then contract and push the food farther along the digestive tract.
  • Once the food is in the small intestine, the smooth muscles of the intestine continue mechanical digestion. However, chemical digestion depends on the accessory organs of the small intestine, which include the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. Inside the pancreas, enzymes that digest carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are produced. Alkaline fluid is also secreted to raise the pH of the intestine above 7. Liver produces bile, which breaks down fats. Excess bile is then stored in the gallbladder. Lastly, nutrients from the food are absorbed by the villi and transported into the blood stream. 
  • liver
  • gallbladder
  • pancreas
  • The food, now mostly chyme, is then transported to the large intestine, which includes the colon, appendix, and rectum. Bacteria remains in the colon and produces vitamin K and B for the body.  The colon's main function, however, is to absorb water from the chyme. The chyme becomes more solidified into feces, and the feces move toward the walls of the rectum. The rectum stretches, the sphincter relaxes, and the feces are excreted.
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