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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Identify the locations and primary secretions involved in the chemical digestion of carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids
  • Compare and contrast absorption of the hydrophilic and hydrophobic nutrients

As you have learned, the process of mechanical digestion    is relatively simple. It involves the physical breakdown of food but does not alter its chemical makeup. Chemical digestion , on the other hand, is a complex process that reduces food into its chemical building blocks, which are then absorbed to nourish the cells of the body ( [link] ). In this section, you will look more closely at the processes of chemical digestion and absorption.

Digestion and absorption

This diagram identifies the functions of mechanical and chemical digestion and absorption at each organ. Next to each organ, a callout identifies which steps of digestion take place in that particular organ.
Digestion begins in the mouth and continues as food travels through the small intestine. Most absorption occurs in the small intestine.

Chemical digestion

Large food molecules (for example, proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, and starches) must be broken down into subunits that are small enough to be absorbed by the lining of the alimentary canal. This is accomplished by enzymes.

Carbohydrate digestion

The average American diet is about 50 percent carbohydrates, which may be classified according to the number of monomers (subunits) they contain. You should take notes on figure 2 below .

The chemical digestion of starches begins in the mouth and has been reviewed in previous modules. In the small intestine, pancreatic amylase    does the ‘heavy lifting’ for starch and carbohydrate digestion ( [link] ). Amylases break down starches into simple sugars. Three brush border enzymes break up the sugars sucrose, lactose, and maltose into monosaccharides.

Carbohydrate digestion flow chart

This flow chart shows the steps in digestion of carbohydrates. The different levels shown are starch and glycogen, disaccharides and monosaccharides. Under each type of sugar, examples and the enzymes responsible for digestion are listed.
Carbohydrates are broken down into their monomers in a series of steps.

Protein digestion

Proteins are polymers composed of amino acids linked by peptide bonds to form long chains. Digestion reduces them to their constituent amino acids. You usually consume about 15 to 20 percent of your total calorie intake as protein.

The digestion of protein starts in the stomach, where HCl and pepsin break proteins into smaller subunits, which then travel to the small intestine ( [link] ). Chemical digestion in the small intestine is continued by pancreatic enzymes, including chymotrypsin and trypsin , each of which act on specific bonds in amino acid sequences. At the same time, the cells of the brush border secrete enzymes. This results in molecules small enough to enter the bloodstream ( [link] ). Take notes on figure 4 .

Digestion of protein

This diagrams shows the human digestive system and identifies the role of each organ in protein digestion. A text call-out next to each organ details the specific function.
The digestion of protein begins in the stomach and is completed in the small intestine.

Digestion of protein flow chart

This flow chart shows the different steps in the digestion of protein. The four steps shown are protein, large polypeptides, short peptides and amino acids and amino acids.
Proteins are successively broken down into their amino acid components.

Lipid digestion

A healthy diet limits lipid intake to 35 percent of total calorie intake. The most common dietary lipids are triglycerides, which are made up of a glycerol molecule bound to three fatty acid chains. Small amounts of dietary cholesterol and phospholipids are also consumed.

The lipase primarily responsible for lipid digestion is pancreatic lipase    . However, because the pancreas is the only consequential source of lipase, virtually all lipid digestion occurs in the small intestine. Pancreatic lipase breaks down each triglyceride into subunits called free fatty acids and monoglycerides .

Questions & Answers

what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
Damian
yes that's correct
Professor
I think
Professor
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
Rafiq
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
Damian
How we are making nano material?
LITNING Reply
what is a peer
LITNING Reply
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
LITNING Reply
What is STMs full form?
LITNING
scanning tunneling microscope
Sahil
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Santosh
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
Mahi
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
Rafiq
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
Bob
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
brayan
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Damian
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
Renato
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
?
Kyle
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
Adin
why?
Adin
what school?
Kyle
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
Joe
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
research.net
kanaga
sciencedirect big data base
Ernesto
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
Bharti
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
Daniel
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Source:  OpenStax, Digestive system. OpenStax CNX. Feb 23, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11761/1.1
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