Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 6

The digestive system is a group of organs working together to convert food into

energy and basic nutrients to feed the entire body. Food passes through a long tube
inside the body known as the alimentary canal or the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract).
The alimentary canal is made up of the oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus, stomach,
small intestines, and large intestines. In addition to the alimentary canal, there are
several important accessory organs that help your body to digest food but do not have
food pass through them. Accessory organs of the digestive system include the teeth, tongue,
salivary glands, liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. To achieve the goal of providing energy and
nutrients to the body, six major functions take place in the digestive system:

 Ingestion
 Secretion
 Mixing and movement
 Digestion
 Absorption
 Excretion

Digestive System Anatomy


Food begins its journey through the digestive system in the mouth, also known as
the oral cavity. Inside the mouth are many accessory organs that aid in the digestion
of food—the tongue, teeth, and salivary glands. Teeth chop food into small pieces,
which are moistened by saliva before the tongue and other muscles push the food into
the pharynx.

 Teeth. The teeth are 32 small, hard organs found along the anterior and
lateral edges of the mouth. Each tooth is made of a bone-like substance called
dentin and covered in a layer of enamel—the hardest substance in the body.
Teeth are living organs and contain blood vessels and nerves under the dentin
in a soft region known as the pulp. The teeth are designed for cutting and
grinding food into smaller pieces.
 Tongue. The tongue is located on the inferior portion of the mouth just
posterior and medial to the teeth. It is a small organ made up of several pairs
of muscles covered in a thin, bumpy, skin-like layer. The outside of the tongue
contains many rough papillae for gripping food as it is moved by the tongue’s
muscles. The taste buds on the surface of the tongue detect taste molecules in
food and connect to nerves in the tongue to send taste information to the brain.
The tongue also helps to push food toward the posterior part of the mouth for
 Salivary Glands. Surrounding the mouth are 3 sets of salivary glands. The
salivary glands are accessory organs that produce a watery secretion known as
saliva. Saliva helps to moisten food and begins the digestion of carbohydrates.
The body also uses saliva to lubricate food as it passes through the mouth,
pharynx, and esophagus.


The pharynx, or throat, is a funnel-shaped tube connected to the posterior end of the
mouth. The pharynx is responsible for the passing of masses of chewed food from the
mouth to the esophagus. The pharynx also plays an important role in the respiratory
system, as air from the nasal cavity passes through the pharynx on its way to the
larynx and eventually the lungs. Because the pharynx serves two different functions,
it contains a flap of tissue known as the epiglottis that acts as a switch to route food to
the esophagus and air to the larynx.


The esophagus is a muscular tube connecting the pharynx to the stomach that is part
of the upper gastrointestinal tract. It carries swallowed masses of chewed food
along its length. At the inferior end of the esophagus is a muscular ring called the
lower esophageal sphincter or cardiac sphincter. The function of this sphincter is to
close of the end of the esophagus and trap food in the stomach.


The stomach is a muscular sac that is located on the left side of the abdominal cavity,
just inferior to the diaphragm. In an average person, the stomach is about the size of
their two fists placed next to each other. This major organ acts as a storage tank for
food so that the body has time to digest large meals properly. The stomach also
contains hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes that continue the digestion of food
that began in the mouth.

Small Intestine

The small intestine is a long, thin tube about 1 inch in diameter and about 10 feet
long that is part of the lower gastrointestinal tract. It is located just inferior to the
stomach and takes up most of the space in the abdominal cavity. The entire small
intestine is coiled like a hose and the inside surface is full of many ridges and folds.
These folds are used to maximize the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. By
the time food leaves the small intestine, around 90% of all nutrients have been
extracted from the food that entered it.

Liver and Gallbladder

The liver is a roughly triangular accessory organ of the digestive system located to the
right of the stomach, just inferior to the diaphragm and superior to the small intestine.
The liver weighs about 3 pounds and is the second largest organ in the body.

The liver has many different functions in the body, but the main function of the liver
in digestion is the production of bile and its secretion into the small intestine.
The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ located just posterior to the liver. The
gallbladder is used to store and recycle excess bile from the small intestine so that it
can be reused for the digestion of subsequent meals.

Large Intestine

The large intestine is a long, thick tube about 2.5 inches in diameter and about 5 feet
long. It is located just inferior to the stomach and wraps around the superior and
lateral border of the small intestine. The large intestine absorbs water and contains
many symbiotic bacteria that aid in the breaking down of wastes to extract some small
amounts of nutrients. Feces in the large intestine exit the body through the anal canal.

Digestive System Physiology

The digestive system is responsible for taking whole foods and turning them into
energy and nutrients to allow the body to function, grow, and repair itself. The six
primary processes of the digestive system include:

1. Ingestion of food
2. Secretion of fluids and digestive enzymes
3. Mixing and movement of food and wastes through the body
4. Digestion of food into smaller pieces
5. Absorption of nutrients
6. Excretion of wastes
The energy required for all the processes and activities that take place in our
bodies is derived from the foods we ingest. The digestive system allows us to
utilize food from such diverse sources as meat from an animal and the roots of a
plant, and utilize them as an energy source. Whether it is the ability to coordinate
the chewing of the food without injuring our tongue and lips or the propulsion of
the food from the stomach into the duodenum while releasing the appropriate
enzymes, our digestive system allows us to manage the process without much
thought and often while performing other tasks.
What is digestion?

The process of digestion is a fascinating and complex one that takes the food we place in
our mouth and turns it into energy and waste products. This process takes place in the
gastrointestinal tract, a long, connected, tubular structure that starts with the mouth
and ends with the anus. The food is propelled forward within the system, altered by
enzymes and hormones into usable particles and absorbed along the way. Other organs
that support the digestive process are the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. The time it
takes for food to travel from entering the mouth to be excreted as waste is around 30 to
40 hours.

The mouth

The mouth is the entry point for food, but the digestive system often gets ready before
the first piece of food even enters our mouth. Saliva is released by the salivary glands
into our oral cavity when we smell food. Once the food enters the mouth, chewing
(mastication) breaks food into smaller particles that can be more easily attacked by the
enzymes in saliva. Our teeth can perform a cutting as well as grinding function to
accomplish this task. The tongue assists in mixing the food with the saliva and then the
tongue and roof of the mouth (soft palate) help move the food along to the pharynx
and esophagus

The pharynx and esophagus

The pharynx (throat) is the transition area from the mouth to the esophagus. From the
pharynx there are two paths that the food bolus can take; 1) the wrong path, which is
down the windpipe into the lungs, or 2) the correct path into the esophagus and then
the stomach. The act of swallowing is a complex process that closes the windpipe (to
protect our lungs) and moves food into the esophagus. This process is mostly automatic
(reflex) but it is also partially under our direct control.
Once it enters the esophagus, food is moved down the esophagus and into our stomach.
The esophagus is a muscular tube that contracts in a synchronized fashion (peristalsis)
to move food down towards the stomach. While the muscles behind the food product
contract, the muscles ahead of the food relax, causing the forward propulsion of the
food. Peristalsis is the main mechanism by which food moves through our digestive

Once the food approaches the stomach, a muscular valve (the lower esophageal
sphincter) relaxes and lets the food pass into the stomach. This sphincter has the
important function of closing the stomach so no food or stomach acid reenters
the esophagus (and therefore avoiding heartburn or regurgitation).
The stomach and small intestine

From glands that line the stomach, acid and enzymes are secreted that continue the
breakdown process of the food. The stomach muscles further mix the food. At the end
of this process, the food you placed in your mouth has been transformed to a thick
creamy fluid called chyme.

This thick fluid is then pushed into the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine).
With the help of enzymes from the pancreas and bile from the liver, further breakdown
of the food occurs in the small intestine.

The small intestine has three segments. The first segment is the duodenum where
further breakdown of the food takes place. The next two parts of the small intestine
(jejunum and ileum) are mostly responsible for the absorption of nutrients from the
processed food into the bloodstream through the walls of the intestine.

After the small intestine, the leftover waste leaves the upper gastrointestinal tract
(upper GI tract) which is made up of everything above the large intestine, and
moves into the large intestine or colon (the beginning of the lower GI tract).
The colon, rectum, and anus

The role of the lower GI tract is to solidify the waste product (by absorbing water), store
the waste product until it can be evacuated (going to the bathroom) and help with the
evacuation process.

The large intestine (colon) has four parts:

ascending colon,

transverse colon,

descending colon and

sigmoid colon.

All together the colon is approximately 7 feet long and connects to the rectum. Here as in most other
parts of the GI system, the waste product is moved along by peristalsis. As the waste product passes
through the colon, water is absorbed and stool is formed.

The stool from the colon is stored in the rectum. The anal sphincter provides the control over releasing
stool or holding it. Once stool arrives in the rectum, a feedback to the brain makes the person aware of
the need for a bowel movement. Voluntary control over the anal sphincter lets us hold the stool until we
go to the toilet.

1. Pancreas: Although the pancreas is mostly known for its blood

sugar regulatory function with the production of insulin (as part of the
endocrine system -- he insulin goesdirectly from the gland into the
bloodstream), it is the main producer of digestive enzymes as part of the
exocrine system (the enzymes produced by the gland pass through a duct
into the intestines). These enzymes are released into the duodenum and
help with the digestion of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates..
2. Liver: The liver produces bile for fat digestion and elimination. In addition,
nutrients are stored in the liver, and toxins and chemicals are filtered by
3. Gallbladder: Bile is stored and released from the gallbladder. When fatty
food enters the duodenum, the gallbladder contracts and releases bile.