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The undigested food is sent to the colon from the ileum via peristaltic movements. The ileum ends and the large intestine begins at the ileocecal valve. The vermiform, “worm-like,” appendix is located at the ileocecal valve. The appendix of humans has a minor role in immunity.

Large intestine

The large intestine    reabsorbs the water from indigestible food material and processes the waste material ( [link] ). The human large intestine is much smaller in length compared to the small intestine but larger in diameter. It has three parts: the cecum, the colon, and the rectum. The cecum joins the ileum to the colon and is the receiving pouch for the waste matter. The colon is home to many bacteria or “intestinal flora” that aid in the digestive processes. The colon    has four regions, the ascending colon, the transverse colon, the descending colon and the sigmoid colon. The main functions of the colon are to extract the water and mineral salts from undigested food, and to store waste material.

Illustration shows the structure of the large intestine, which begins with the ascending colon. Below the ascending colon is the cecum. The vermiform appendix is a small projection at the bottom of the cecum. The ascending colon travels up the right side of the body, then turns into the transverse colon. On the left side of the body the large intestine turns again, into the descending colon. At the bottom, the descending colon curves up; this part of the intestine is called the sigmoid colon. The sigmoid colon empties into the rectum. The rectum travels straight down, to the anus.
The large intestine reabsorbs water from undigested food and stores waste until it is eliminated. (credit: modification of work by Mariana Ruiz Villareal)

The rectum    ( [link] ) stores feces until defecation. The feces are propelled using peristaltic movements during elimination. The anus    is an opening at the far-end of the digestive tract and is the exit point for the waste material. Two sphincters regulate the exit of feces, the inner sphincter is involuntary and the outer sphincter is voluntary.

Accessory organs

The organs discussed above are the organs of the digestive tract through which food passes. Accessory organs add secretions and enzymes that break down food into nutrients. Accessory organs include the salivary glands, the liver, the pancreas, and the gall bladder. The secretions of the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder are regulated by hormones in response to food consumption.

The liver    is the largest internal organ in humans and it plays an important role in digestion of fats and detoxifying blood. The liver produces bile, a digestive juice that is required for the breakdown of fats in the duodenum. The liver also processes the absorbed vitamins and fatty acids and synthesizes many plasma proteins. The gallbladder    is a small organ that aids the liver by storing bile and concentrating bile salts.

The pancreas    secretes bicarbonate that neutralizes the acidic chyme and a variety of enzymes (trypsin, amylase, and lipase) for the digestion of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, respectively.

Art connection

Illustration shows the human lower digestive system, which begins with the stomach, a sac that lies above the large intestine. The stomach empties into the small intestine, which is a long, highly folded tube. The beginning of the small intestine is called the duodenum, the long middle part is called the jejunum, and the end is called the ileum. The ileum empties into the large intestine on the right side of the body. Beneath the junction of the small and large intestine is a small pouch called the cecum. The appendix is at the bottom end of the cecum. The large intestine travels up the left side of the body, across the top of the small intestine, then down the right side of the body. These parts of the large intestine are called the ascending colon, the transverse colon and the descending colon, respectively. The large intestine empties into the rectum, which is connected to the anus. The pancreas is sandwiched between the stomach and large intestine. The liver is a triangular organ that sits above and slightly to the right of the stomach. The gallbladder is a small bulb between the liver and stomach.
The stomach has an extremely acidic environment where most of the protein gets digested. (credit: modification of work by Mariana Ruiz Villareal)

Nutrition

The human diet should be well balanced to provide nutrients required for bodily function and the minerals and vitamins required for maintaining structure and regulation necessary for good health and reproductive capability ( [link] ).

Healthy diet logo shows a plate divided into four sections, labeled “fruits”, “vegetables” “grains,” and “protein”. The vegetables section is slightly larger than the other three. A circle to the side of the plate is labeled “dairy”. Beneath the plate is the web address “Choose My Plate dot gov”.
For humans, a balanced diet includes fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. (credit: USDA)

Concept in action

Explore this interactive United States Department of Agriculture website to learn more about each food group and the recommended daily amounts.

The organic molecules required for building cellular material and tissues must come from food. During digestion, digestible carbohydrates are ultimately broken down into glucose and used to provide energy within the cells of the body. Complex carbohydrates, including polysaccharides, can be broken down into glucose through biochemical modification; however, humans do not produce the enzyme necessary to digest cellulose (fiber). The intestinal flora in the human gut are able to extract some nutrition from these plant fibers. These plant fibers are known as dietary fiber and are an important component of the diet. The excess sugars in the body are converted into glycogen and stored for later use in the liver and muscle tissue. Glycogen stores are used to fuel prolonged exertions, such as long-distance running, and to provide energy during food shortage. Fats are stored under the skin of mammals for insulation and energy reserves.

Proteins in food are broken down during digestion and the resulting amino acids are absorbed. All of the proteins in the body must be formed from these amino-acid constituents; no proteins are obtained directly from food.

Fats add flavor to food and promote a sense of satiety or fullness. Fatty foods are also significant sources of energy, and fatty acids are required for the construction of lipid membranes. Fats are also required in the diet to aid the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and the production of fat-soluble hormones.

While the animal body can synthesize many of the molecules required for function from precursors, there are some nutrients that must be obtained from food. These nutrients are termed essential nutrients , meaning they must be eaten, because the body cannot produce them. Essential nutrients include some fatty acids, some amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.

Section summary

There are many organs that work together to digest food and absorb nutrients. The mouth is the point of ingestion and the location where both mechanical and chemical breakdown of food begins. Saliva contains an enzyme called amylase that breaks down carbohydrates and an enxyme lipase that breaks down triglycerides. The food bolus travels through the esophagus by peristaltic movements to the stomach. The stomach has an extremely acidic environment. The enzyme pepsin digests protein in the stomach. Further digestion and absorption take place in the small intestine. The large intestine reabsorbs water from the undigested food and stores waste until elimination.

Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are the primary components of food. Some essential nutrients are required for cellular function but cannot be produced by the animal body. These include vitamins (both fat and water soluble) , minerals, some fatty acids, and some amino acids. Food intake in more than necessary amounts is stored as glycogen in the liver and muscle cells, and in adipose tissue. Excess adipose storage can lead to obesity and serious health problems.

Art connections

[link] Which of the following statements about the digestive system is false?

  1. Chyme is a mixture of food and digestive juices that is produced in the stomach.
  2. Food enters the large intestine before the small intestine.
  3. In the small intestine, chyme mixes with bile, which emulsifies fats.
  4. The stomach is separated from the small intestine by the pyloric sphincter.

[link] B

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Questions & Answers

Definition of respiration
Muhsin Reply
where does digestion begins
Achiri Reply
in the mouth
EZEKIEL
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stimulates the follicle to release the mature ovum into the oviduct
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what are the functions of Endocrine and pituitary gland
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Biology is the study of living organisms, divided into many specialized field that cover their morphology, physiology,anatomy, behaviour,origin and distribution.
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1-chemical level 2-cellular level 3-organ system level 4-tissue level 5-organism level 6-molecules
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describe the Krebs cycle
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the sequence of reactions by which most living cells generate energy during the process of aerobic respiration. It takes place in the mitochondria, consuming oxygen, producing carbon dioxide and water as waste products, and converting ADP to energy
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zafirah Reply
where did our atmosphere came from
Thomas Reply
Our atmospher came from outer space.
R0se
Do mitotic and mitosis mean same?
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yes
momo
what are some mechanisms for regulating electrolytes and fluid in the body?
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what is life?
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define unit membran model?
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define unit membran model?
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different between human being and animals
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what is fat soluble drugs
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drugs that dissolve mostly in fatty tissues
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Source:  OpenStax, Human biology. OpenStax CNX. Dec 01, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11903/1.3
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