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THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM The human digestive system is a complex series of organs and glands that processes food. In order to use the food we eat, our body has to break the food down into smaller molecules that it can process; it also has to excrete waste. Most of the digestive organs (like the stomach and intestines) are tube-like and contain the food as it makes its way through the body. The digestive system is essentially a long, twisting tube that runs from the mouth to the anus, plus a few other organs (like the liver and pancreas) that produce or store digestive chemicals. Digestion the process of changing complex solid foods into simpler soluble forms which can be absorbed by the body cells. Enzymes chemical substances that promote chemical reactions in living things,although they themselves are unaffected by the chemical reactions. The alimentary canal also known as the digestive tract (DT) or gastrointestinal tract (GI) consist of the mouth (oral cavity), pharynx (throat), esophagus (gullet), stomach, small intestine, large intestine (colon), and the anus, which is a continuous tube some 9 meters in length. The accessory organs of digestion are the tongue, teeth, salivary glands, pancreas, lever, and gall bladder.

Layers Of The Digestive System The walls of the alimentary canal are composed of 4 layers : a. The mucosa the inner most lining, is made of epithelial cells, secretes slimy mucus and digestive juices. b. The submucosa consists of connective tissue with fibres, blood vessels, and the nerve endings. c. The muscularis consists of circular muscle; and, d. The scrosa longitudanal muscle. The mucosa which produce mucus lubricates the alimentary canal, aiding the passage of food. It also insulates the digestive tract from the effects of powerful enzymes while protecting the delicate epithelial cells from abrasive substances within the food.

Functions Of The Digestive System The functions are to change food into forms that the body can use and to eliminate the waste products. These functions are accomplished in four major steps: a. Break down food physically into smaller pieces. b. Change food chemically by digestive juices into the end products of fat, carbohydrates, and protein. c. To absorb the nutrients into the blood capilliaries of the small intestines for use in the body. d. To eliminate the waste products of the digestion.

Human Digestive System

Upper and Lower human gastrointestinal tract Upper gastrointestinal tract The upper gastrointestinal tract consists of the mouth cavity, pharynx, esophagus, stomach,and duodenum. Behind the mouth lies the epiglottis which prevents food from entering the voice box and leads to a hollow muscular tube, the esophagus.

Lower gastrointestinal tract The lower gastrointestinal tract comprises the most of the intestines and the anus. Bowel or intestine

Small intestine, which has three parts: Duodenum - Here the digestive juices from pancreas and liver mix together Jejunum - It is the midsection of the intestine, connecting duodenum to ileum. Ileum - It has villi in where all soluble molecules are absorbed into the blood. Large intestine, which has three parts:

Cecum (the vermiform appendix is attached to the cecum). Colon (ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon and sigmoid flexure) Rectum


Transit Time The time taken for food or other ingested objects to transit through the gastrointestinal tract varies depending on many factors, but roughly, it takes 2.5 to 3 hours after meal for 50% of stomach contents to empty into the intestines and total emptying of the stomach takes 4 to 5 hours. Subsequently, 50% emptying of the small intestine takes 2.5 to 3 hours. Finally, transit through the colon takes 30 to 40 hours.

The Digestive Process:

The start of the process - the mouth: The digestive process begins in the mouth. Food is partly broken down by the process of chewing. Teeth and tongue begin mechanical digestion by breaking apart food. The salivary glands : the chemical action of salivary enzymes (these enzymes are produced by the salivary glands and break down starches into smaller molecules, begin chemical digestion as ptylin begins to change starch to maltose). On the way to the stomach: the esophagus - After being chewed and swallowed, the food enters the esophagus. The esophagus is a long tube that runs from the mouth to the stomach. It uses rhythmic, wave-like muscle movements (called peristalsis) to force food from the throat into the stomach.

This muscle movement gives us the ability to eat or drink even when we're upside-down. In the stomach - The stomach is a large, sack-like organ that churns the food and bathes it in a very strong acid (gastric acid). Food in the stomach that is partly digested and mixed with stomach acids is called chyme. Hydrochloric acid prepares the gastric area for enzyme action. Pepsin breaks down proteins. In children, rennin breaks down milk proteins. Lipase acts on emulsified fats.
Liver produces bile. The liver secretes bile into the small intestine via the bile duct employing the gallbladder as a reservoir. Gall bladder stores bile and releases it into small intestine to emulsify fats. Apart from storing and concentrating bile, the gallbladder has no other specific function. Both of these secretory organs aid in digestion. Pancreas enzymes are released into the small intestine. Amylase breaks

down starch. Steapsin breaks down fats. Pancreatic proteases break down proteins. The pancreas secretes an isosmotic fluid containing bicarbonate, which
helps neutralize the acidic chyme, and several enzymes, including trypsin, chymotrypsin, lipase, and pancreatic amylase, as well as nucleolytic enzymes (deoxyribonuclease and ribonuclease), into the small intestine.

In the small intestine - After being in the stomach, food enters the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine. It then enters the jejunum and then the ileum (the final part of the small intestine). In the small intestine, bile (produced in the liver and stored in the gall bladder), pancreatic enzymes, and other digestive enzymes produced by the inner wall of the small intestine help in the breakdown of food. Enzymes produced prepares foods for absorption, lactase converts lactose, maltase converts maltose, sucrase converts sucrose to simple sugars. Peptidases reduce proteins to amino acids. Primary location of absorption. In the large intestine - After passing through the small intestine, food passes into the large intestine. In the large intestine, some of the water and electrolytes (chemicals like sodium) are removed from the food. Many microbes (bacteria like Bacteroides, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Escherichia coli, and Klebsiella) in the large intestine help in the digestion process. The first part of the large intestine is called the cecum (the appendix is connected to the cecum). Food then travels upward in the ascending colon. The food travels across the abdomen in the transverse colon, goes back down the other side of the body in

the descending colon, and then through the sigmoid colon. Absorbs water and some other nutrients, and collects food residue for excretion. The end of the process - Solid waste is then stored in the rectum until it is excreted via the anus.

Other organs consist of the:

Tongue Teeth Salivary glands Gallbladder Liver Pancreas


Teeth are classified as incisors, canines, and molars. In the primary set of teeth, there are two types of incisors, centrals and laterals, and two types of molars, first and second. Humans usually have 20 primary teeth (also called deciduous, baby, or milk teeth) and 32 permanent teeth. Among primary teeth, ten are found in the (upper) maxilla and the other ten in the (lower) mandible.

All primary teeth are replaced with permanent counterparts except for molars, which are replaced by permanent premolars. Among permanent teeth, 16 are found in the maxilla with the other 16 in the mandible.

The maxillary teeth are the maxillary central incisor, maxillary lateral incisor, maxillary canine, maxillary first premolar, maxillary second premolar, maxillary first molar, maxillary second molar, and maxillary third molar. The mandibular teeth are the mandibular central incisor, mandibular lateral incisor, mandibular canine, mandibular first premolar, mandibular second premolar, mandibular first molar, mandibular second molar, and mandibular third molar.

Third molars are commonly called "wisdom teeth" and may never erupt into the mouth or form at all. If any additional teeth form, for example, fourth and fifth molars, which are rare, they are referred to as supernumerary teeth.[6]

Digestive System Glossary:

anus - the opening at the end of the digestive system from which feces (waste) exits the body. appendix - a small sac located on the cecum. ascending colon - the part of the large intestine that run upwards; it is located after the cecum. bile - a digestive chemical that is produced in the liver, stored in the gall bladder, and secreted into the small intestine. cecum - the first part of the large intestine; the appendix is connected to the cecum. chyme - food in the stomach that is partly digested and mixed with stomach acids. Chyme goes on to the small intestine for further digestion. descending colon - the part of the large intestine that run downwards after the transverse colon and before the sigmoid colon. duodenum - the first part of the small intestine; it is C-shaped and runs from the stomach to the jejunum. epiglottis - the flap at the back of the tongue that keeps chewed food from going down the windpipe to the lungs. When you swallow, the epiglottis automatically closes. When you breathe, the epiglottis opens so that air can go in and out of the windpipe. esophagus - the long tube between the mouth and the stomach. It uses rhythmic muscle movements (called peristalsis) to force food from the throat into the stomach. gall bladder - a small, sac-like organ located by the duodenum. It stores and releases bile (a digestive chemical which is produced in the liver) into the small intestine. ileum - the last part of the small intestine before the large intestine begins. jejunum - the long, coiled mid-section of the small intestine; it is between the duodenum and the ileum. liver - a large organ located above and in front of the stomach. It filters toxins from the blood, and makes bile (which breaks down fats) and some blood proteins.

mouth - the first part of the digestive system, where food enters the body. Chewing and salivary enzymes in the mouth are the beginning of the digestive process (breaking down the food). pancreas - an enzyme-producing gland located below the stomach and above the intestines. Enzymes from the pancreas help in the digestion of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in the small intestine. peristalsis - rhythmic muscle movements that force food in the esophagus from the throat into the stomach. Peristalsis is involuntary - you cannot control it. It is also what allows you to eat and drink while upside-down. rectum - the lower part of the large intestine, where feces are stored before they are excreted. salivary glands - glands located in the mouth that produce saliva. Saliva contains enzymes that break down carbohydrates (starch) into smaller molecules. sigmoid colon - the part of the large intestine between the descending colon and the rectum. stomach - a sack-like, muscular organ that is attached to the esophagus. Both chemical and mechanical digestion takes place in the stomach. When food enters the stomach, it is churned in a bath of acids and enzymes. transverse colon - the part of the large intestine that runs horizontally across the abdomen.


Human Digestive System

Insoluble food has to be digested before it can be absorbed Chewing takes place in the mouth and breaks up the food Digestion starts digesting starch in the mouth. Amylase starts the process In the small intestine the starch has changed to glucose, so the digestion has stopped When starch is completely digested glucose is formed The digestion of protein starts in the stomach with an enzyme called pepsin The digestion of protein finishes in the small intestine The protein changes to amino acids after digestion In the small intestine, soluble food is absorbed into the blood

In the rectum the water is taken out of the waste and the waste pushed together. This makes faeces.

Ingestion: food is taken into the alimentary canal Digestion: large nisoluble molecules are broken down into smaller soluble molecules Absorption: small molecules are absorbed into the blood stream Egestion: waste material passes out


They are biological catalysts They speed up a reaction but remain unchanged at the end and can be used again Enzymes are proteins They are denatured (cease functioning) at high temperatures They are sensitive to pH Enzymes are apecific, only on enzyme will work with one substrate.

Digestive Enzymes Involved In Human Digestion Organ




Amylase found in ptylin

Starch Maltose

Physical and chemical hydrolysis Mucous flow starts here and continues throughout digestive tract Peristalsis begins here Gastrin activates the gastric glands HCL supplies an acidic medium and kill bacteria Temporary food storage Absorption of end products occurs in small intestine Villi facilitates absorption


Mucus Gastric juice along with HCL acid

Mucus Gastric

None Protease, pepsin

Lubrication of food Proteins peptones and proteoses

Small intestine




Peptones and proteases amino acids Maltose glucose Lactose glucose

Maltase Lactase

Sucrase Lipase Bile Pancreatic Liver Pancreas None Protease (trypsin) Amylase (amylopsin) Lipase (steapsin) Nucleases

Sucrose glucose Fats fatty acids and glycerol Emulsifies fat Proteins peptones and amino acids Starch maltose Fats fatty acids and glycerol Nucleic acids (DNA/RNA) nucleotides

Neutralizes stomach acid

Secretin stimulates the flow of pancreatic juice.


Carbohydrases work on carbohydrates and break them down into simple sugars (e.g. Glucose). Amylase is an example of a carbohydrase


These work on proteins and break them down into amino acids. Examples include pepsin and trypsin.


These work on fats (lipids) and break them down into glycerol and fatty acids, for example lipase. Amylase Pepsin Salivary glands and Walls of pancreas stomach Mouth Stomach Break down of protein Trypsin Pancreas Small Intestine Break down of protein Lipase Pancreas Small Intestine Break down of fat

Where produced Where functions

What they do Break down of starch