Ayurveda

Digestive System of Human Body

Human body is not capable of absorbing the nutrients directly from the food we eat. It breaks the food into some simpler forms so that those can be absorbed by the body. This is called the Digestive System. The whole process includes several organs like – mouth, esophagus, pharynx, stomach, small and large intestine and anus. All these organs actively work together for the food digestion in the human body. Digestion is an important body process. You will be more amazed to know how this digestive system works.

Eating and chewing the food

  • The process of digestion starts in the human body with putting the food into the mouth.
  • The food is then chewed well with the help of the teeth.
  • The tongue helps in moving the food inside the mouth for proper chewing.
  • While chewing, our mouth secretes saliva, which breaks the complex food chemicals into simple forms.
  • The food is converted into a semi-solid form of matter (called bolus), which gets swallowed easily through the throat.
  • The saliva contains certain digestive enzymes which help in breakdown of the food.

Food travelling through the throat

  • Two openings are visible towards the end of the throat; windpipe and esophagus. A small flap is present which opens to the esophagus and prevents the entry of the food into the windpipe. The movement of the tongue pushes the bolus into the esophagus. The esophagus is a 25cm long stretchy pipe of the throat.
  • The food is pushed into the stomach through the esophagus by the peristaltic movement. The peristalsis or the peristaltic movement is felt when the throat muscles contract and relax in a symmetrical manner, thereby pushing the food forward.
  • Sometimes, we may swallow in air along with the food while eating too fast. This results in the entry of air inside the stomach along with the food. This results in burps. The bolus takes around 2-3 seconds to move through the esophagus in a slow, wavy path.

Food in the stomach

  • The stomach appears like a tilted “J-shaped” organ.
  • The food enters the stomach through the esophagus.
  • The stomach acts as a reservoir of food which allows further mixing and mashing of the food.
  • The stomach muscles along with the acidic gastric juices breaks down the food further. These gastric juices can also kill the pathogens (bacteria) present within the food.
  • The three basic functions of the stomach are –
    • Storage of the mashed food
    • Converts the food into a liquid mixture
    • Passes the bolus to the small intestine

Food in the Small Intestine

  • The small intestine is not at all small in length. It is about 22 feet long. So do not get confused by its name. The name is given based on its width, which is small compared to the larger intestine.
  • The food enters a long tube passing through the stomach. This is the small intestine. The small intestine along with the activities of three other organs – liver, pancreases and the gall bladder breaks the food into further simpler forms, which can be absorbed by our body. The food is broken down into vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, fats and minerals.
  • After absorption of the nutrients, the blood enters the liver where the harmful wastes are filtered out.

Function of the Large Intestine

  • The large intestine is measured around 5 feet in length. The large intestine separates the wastes into solids or liquids. The solid wastes come out as feces and the liquid waste is sent for further processing.

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