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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Discuss six fundamental activities of the digestive system, giving an example of each
  • Compare and contrast the neural and hormonal controls involved in digestion

The digestive system uses mechanical and chemical activities to break food down into absorbable substances during its journey through the digestive system. [link] provides an overview of the basic functions of the digestive organs.

Visit this site for an overview of digestion of food in different regions of the digestive tract. Note the route of non-fat nutrients from the small intestine to their release as nutrients to the body.

Functions of the Digestive Organs
Organ Major functions Other functions
Mouth
  • Ingests food
  • Chews and mixes food
  • Begins chemical breakdown of carbohydrates
  • Moves food into the pharynx
  • Begins breakdown of lipids via lingual lipase
  • Moistens and dissolves food, allowing you to taste it
  • Cleans and lubricates the teeth and oral cavity
  • Has some antimicrobial activity
Pharynx
  • Propels food from the oral cavity to the esophagus
  • Lubricates food and passageways
Esophagus
  • Propels food to the stomach
  • Lubricates food and passageways
Stomach
  • Mixes and churns food with gastric juices to form chyme
  • Begins chemical breakdown of proteins
  • Releases food into the duodenum as chyme
  • Absorbs some fat-soluble substances (for example, alcohol, aspirin)
  • Possesses antimicrobial functions
  • Stimulates protein-digesting enzymes
  • Secretes intrinsic factor required for vitamin B 12 absorption in small intestine
Small intestine
  • Mixes chyme with digestive juices
  • Propels food at a rate slow enough for digestion and absorption
  • Absorbs breakdown products of carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids, along with vitamins, minerals, and water
  • Performs physical digestion via segmentation
  • Provides optimal medium for enzymatic activity
Accessory organs
  • Liver: produces bile salts, which emulsify lipids, aiding their digestion and absorption
  • Gallbladder: stores, concentrates, and releases bile
  • Pancreas: produces digestive enzymes and bicarbonate
  • Bicarbonate-rich pancreatic juices help neutralize acidic chyme and provide optimal environment for enzymatic activity
Large intestine
  • Further breaks down food residues
  • Absorbs most residual water, electrolytes, and vitamins produced by enteric bacteria
  • Propels feces toward rectum
  • Eliminates feces
  • Food residue is concentrated and temporarily stored prior to defecation
  • Mucus eases passage of feces through colon

Digestive processes

The processes of digestion include six activities: ingestion, propulsion, mechanical or physical digestion, chemical digestion, absorption, and defecation.

The first of these processes, ingestion    , refers to the entry of food into the alimentary canal through the mouth. There, the food is chewed and mixed with saliva, which contains enzymes that begin breaking down the carbohydrates in the food plus some lipid digestion via lingual lipase. Chewing increases the surface area of the food and allows an appropriately sized bolus to be produced.

Food leaves the mouth when the tongue and pharyngeal muscles propel it into the esophagus. This act of swallowing, the last voluntary act until defecation, is an example of propulsion    , which refers to the movement of food through the digestive tract. It includes both the voluntary process of swallowing and the involuntary process of peristalsis. Peristalsis consists of sequential, alternating waves of contraction and relaxation of alimentary wall smooth muscles, which act to propel food along ( [link] ). These waves also play a role in mixing food with digestive juices. Peristalsis is so powerful that foods and liquids you swallow enter your stomach even if you are standing on your head.

Questions & Answers

type 2 is controled by diet
Chloe Reply
Diet and life style
Paias
Diet how? maybe eating food containing less sugar?
BTS
what is hypotension
regina Reply
hypotension is when the blood pressure is less than 60/50
Mursal
hypo means low so it implies low blood pressure
Isaac
ok
Mursal
what is mild DKA
Mursal
mild diabetic ketoacidosis is when there is high level of sugar in the blood and the ketone bodies build up in the body ,is a type 1 which can lead to type 2
Isaac
what is the normal range for blood pressure?
BTS
120 over 80
Danielle
low blood pressure; opposite of high blood pressure which is hypertension
Regina
what if your a type 2 diabetic and you have no way to get meds due to no insurance what is some good over the counter medications to take?
Ashley
type 2 diabets is controlled by diet not meds.type 1 is contolled by insulin.
Chloe
type 1 diabets cant be controlled type 2 can be controlled.type 1 is worse than type 2 diabets.
Chloe
type 2 is purely a lifestyle disease, eat healthy, fresh, natural unprocessed real foods.
Danielle
sometime , we already eat diabetic diet than the results of blood sugar level not turn good , what is the reason ?
Muhammad
What is a "diabetic diet" though? Be specific. Juvenile diabetes and/or Type 1 diabetes is something that one can be born with, this needs medical diagnosis and intervention.
Danielle
what i mean by diabetic diet is we take fiber-rich food like vegetables,nut and also fish.
Muhammad
ok, no cause a doctor told me I needed metformin and my suger won't go under 300
Ashley
what is the difference between plasma and serum
Gloria Reply
Plasma contains fibrinogen while serum doesn't
Kateregga
plasma ----- fibrinogen = serum
Sneha
In what time stomach empty it's content in to doudemun? what is chyme?
Sneha Reply
write the chemical and mechanical digestion which occurs in stomach?
Sneha
Does absorption take place in stomach? what are absorption in the stomach by which cell?
Sneha
Chemical digestion---Mixtures of the food with the gastric acid Mechanical digestion--- churning of the food in the stomach making it become more involved into chyme
Mercy
absorption takes place in the small intestine because of the presence of the villi
Enada
name the muscles supplied redina nerve
Appu Reply
mechanism of hormone releasing by gland
said Reply
why is muscle tissue not considered to be a type of connective tissue?
Ezel Reply
A Skeletal muscles consist of numerous muscles cells called Muscle Fibers . Three layers of connective tissues surrounded these fibers to make the muscles tissues
Manisha
that's wny connective tissues is not considered as muscles fibers
Manisha
there are 4 types of tissues : epithelial, connective tissue, nervous tissue and muscle tissue, each one has its own properties. The main function of connective tissue is nutrition, it supplies nutrientes to epithelial tissues that are responsible for protection.
Ariete
Muscle tissue has properties that allow movement, the function here is movement and not nutrition like connective tissue.
Ariete
In what time stomach empty it's content in to doudemun?
Sneha
write the chemical and mechanical digestion which occurs in stomach?
Sneha
Does absorption take place in stomach? what are absorption in the stomach by which cell?
Sneha
Does absorption take place in stomach? what are the absorption in the stomach by which cell?
Sneha
mechanism of hormone controlling releasing by gland
said
please can someone explain renin angiotensin aldosteron system for me
okolie
name the joint present between epichysif and diachysif
JAYKISHAN Reply
what is arteries
JAYKISHAN
oxygenated blood carrying vessels
Karanpreet
I think oxygenated blood carrying pulmonary vein
Omaryare
ya this stetment is right 4 pulmonary vein carrying the oxygenated blood
Sneha
What is the relation between cold and clammy skin and disorders that cause poor perfusion?
Tyrone Reply
name the instruments used to measure the gas volume and flow in pulmonary function test
Preethi Reply
Spirometer
Ravi
In a spirometry test, While you are sitting, you breath into a mouthpiece that is connected to an instrument called a spirometer . The spirometer records the amount and the rate of air that you breath in and out over a period of time. When standing, Some numbers might be slightly different.
Ravi
tq soo much
Preethi
u most wlcm
Ravi
what is signal transduction?
Bahle
Signal Transduction (Also know as cell signaling) is the transmission of molecular signal from a cell exterior to its interior.Signals receive by cells must be transmitted effectively into the cell to ensure an appropriate response. This step is initiated by cell - surface receptors.
Ravi
i know now didn't know
Cypline
that's great respond
Feng
what is histological anatomy?
Thelma Reply
what is histological anatomy?
Thelma
the study of form of structure seen under the microscope
Metinah
is the branch of biology which studies the microscopic anatomy of biological tissues.
Jeffrey
it's the study of the microscopic anatomy of cells and tissues in the plants and it's carried out by examining a thin slice of tissues under a microscope light / or an electronic microscope
Manisha
is the study of anatomy in a microscopic level
simon
thank you
Thelma
what are the significance differrences can be donated between the female and male skeleton..
charles
What is Ions and Ionic bonds
Ravi Reply
2 less stable atoms
Hope
Ionic bonding is the complete transfer of valence electron(s) between atoms. It is a type of chemical bond that generates two oppositely charged ions. In ionic bonds, the metal loses electrons to become a positively charged cation, whereas the nonmetal accepts those electrons to become a negatively
Hope
what is osmosis
Brown Reply
it's out Body Fluid.
Sa
high pressure to low pressure flow
Sneha
Osmosis is the movement of solvent from a region of lower solute concentration to a region of higher solute concentration through a semi- permeable membrane.
Ravi
how many types of tissue
ABBAKARR Reply
4, that is muscle tissue, connective, nerve and epithelial tissue
Mapesho
We have four types of tissue these are ,epithelial tissue,nerve tissue,muscle tissue and connective tissue
Samboat
function of labia minora
temba
why is a graph of plasma [glucose] superimposed
Sefai Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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