DigestiveResource.com is dedicated to educating the community on all aspects of digestive system health. We provide reliable, accurate information about health problems related to the digestive system, as well as advice and facts on how you can keep your digestive system healthy.
The digestive system plays several critical roles in the body, and a healthy digestive system is vital to your overall wellbeing. Every time you eat, the digestive system breaks down that food into nutrients, like carbohydrates, protein, fats, and vitamins. The body needs those nutrients for energy, growth, and cell repair.
The digestive system is composed of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract – the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and anus – as well as the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. As food moves through the gastrointestinal tract, digestive juices like saliva, pancreatic juice, bile, and stomach acid break the particles down, so that they can be carried through the bloodstream to the areas of the body where they are most needed.
Digestion begins in the mouth, where you use your teeth to make the food more easily digestible, and your saliva begins to break down the starches. When you swallow, the food goes down your esophagus and enters your stomach. In the lower part of your stomach, the food mixes with stomach acid and the proteins are broken down.
Food travels from the stomach to the small intestine, where it mixes with digestive juices from the intestine, pancreas, and liver. At this point, most food particles are small enough to be absorbed into the bloodstream through the walls of the small intestine. The waste products, like undigested food and older cells from the GI tract, are pushed into the large intestine through peristalsis. The large intestine absorbs water and remaining nutrients, and pushes the waste into the rectum, where it is stored until a bowel movement expels it.