This paper discusses the digestive system, its general function in the body and how it interacts with the other body systems. Different organs belonging to this system and their main job in the digestive system will also be discussed.
A focus on one organ is made to discuss its structure and inform you about a common ailment associated to this organ and how this disease generally affects the human body.
Food is our body’s main source of energy. But have you ever thought how this food becomes energy available for our body? That is the main function of the digestive system. The digestive system is responsible for breaking down of food into smaller particles so that our body can absorb the nutrients and store energy available.
The energy, nutrients and vitamins are then absorbed by the blood, part of the circulatory system, to deliver the energy and nutrients to the different parts of our body. The waste or particles that could not be absorbed by the body after the digestion of food is excreted by the excretory system. The operation of the digestive system is closely monitored by the nervous system, so if anything goes wrong or when you are feeling hungry, the digestive system reports this to the nervous system and gives you information that you have to do something about it.
The digestive system therefore contributes to the physiological homeostasis of the body because without it, there would be no regular delivery of nutrients and energy needed by the other parts of the body to perform their bodily functions.
Now let’s have a look at the different organs of the digestive system by following the journey of a food inside the digestive tract. First, the food enters our body thru the mouth. The mouth breaks down the food into smaller and softer crumbs so that it can easily pass down thru the digestive tract. Inside the mouth, we have the salivary glands that produce saliva which aids in the initial breaking down of food.
The food is then swallowed and enters the esophagus that connects the mouth to the stomach. The esophagus produces a muscle movement known as peristalsis that pushes the food into the stomach. After traveling thru the esophagus, the swallowed food then lands on the stomach.
The stomach is an organ where the food is broken down into liquid form. It also stores the food while it is being broken down for a matter of hours. Gastric enzymes are produced in the stomach that aid in the process of breaking down of food. After being stored for several hours, the liquidized food then enters the small intestine. Inside the small intestine, the final part breakdown of the food takes place.
The pancreas produces pancreatic juices that aid the small intestine in final breaking down of food (mainly the fats and the proteins). The liver produces bile that aids in absorption of fats from the food that our body could utilize. The gallbladder stores the bile with the digested fats.
As we can see, the small intestine is place where most of the important activities of the digestive system take place. It is also the place where the nutrients from the food are absorbed through the intestinal wall. After the journey inside the small intestine, the excess from the food that was not absorb by the body then travels thru the large intestine.
The large intestine is the site where the food waste is produced. This is also the last place where our body could extract final nutrients available in the food, particularly the water content of the food. After absorbing the water content of the excess food, it becomes solid waste. The last part of the digestive tract is the rectum where the solid waste is stored until the body gets rid of the waste.