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The digestive system and digestion

Last publication: 30/10/2014


The digestive system is made up of a group of organs which digest food.

  • The digestive tube is a long tube through which food moves during digestion. It is made up of the mouth, pharynx, oesophagus, stomach and intestine (which is divided into the small intestine, colon and rectum).
  • The digestive glands are glands found in the wall of the digestive tube or nearby, and produce digestive juices:
    1. Salivary glands produce saliva.
    2. The wall of the stomach produces gastric juices.
    3. The pancreas produces pancreatic juices.
    4. The liver produces bile.
    5. The wall of the intestine produces intestinal juices.

DIGESTION

It takes place via the digestive system. Digestion is the transformation process of food into small molecules or nutrients capable of crossing the intestinal wall and being absorbed by cells through blood circulation.

These substances make up the energy source and prime materials for making, repairing and controlling different systems of the body.

Digestion is therefore a necessary part of life. Digestion involves simultaneous mechanical and chemical processes. The mechanical processes permit food to be broken down into small particles; their mixing with digestive juices encourages progression along the digestive tube.

    These processes include:
  • Chewing in the mouth which allows foods to combine and subsequently mix with saliva.
  • Swallowing is controlled by the pharynx and ensures the pushing of food or bolus into the oesophagus.
  • Contractions (peristalsis) :
    - the walls of the oesophagus allow food to pass to the stomach where it combines with hydrochloric acid and enzymes (pepsin, chymosin, lipase) which help digest carbohydrates, proteins and fats introduced through food.
    - the walls of the stomach allow liquid from well-digested food, aka chyme, to enter the small intestine.
    - the walls of the intestine help continue the food digestion process. Then, food which has not been absorbed by the body is pushed towards the rectum and anus. The chemical processes guarantee the simplification of food and consist of three basic chemical reactions which are successfully carried out by specific enzymes:
  • The converting of complex carbohydrates into simple sugars such as glucose,
  • The converting of fats into fatty acids and glycerol.

As we mentioned in the introduction, we often put our digestive system under great pressure... and without a doubt, we pay the consequences.

The most common problems experienced are: bloating, heartburn and acidity, colitis, constipation, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, trouble digesting...

Let's take a look at how these problems arise and what simple measures can be taken to relieve them

Diagram of the digestive system

We often put our digestive system under great pressure... and without a doubt, we pay the consequences

Diagram of the digestive system

Diagram of the digestive system

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