The digestive system includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, small intestine, and large intestine. Every part of the digestive system has a very important role to play. If any one part does not function properly, the entire system can fail, thereby leading to health problems.
Have you ever thought how every bite of your food is digested? Or where exactly does the food go, once it is consumed? Well, many of you may not have thought about that. Let us have a brief overview about the major organs of the digestive system.
This is the first part of the digestive system, and it also plays a vital role in communication and respiration. The mouth is called the oral cavity, where the food is chewed into small bits and pieces. The saliva softens the food and acts as a lubricant while swallowing.
Saliva contains digestive enzymes which break the fats and some of the starch in the food we eat. The food that is broken, softened and swallowed is known as bolus. The bolus enters the esophagus, from where it moves to the stomach.
The long (25 to 30 centimeters) muscular tube that connects the mouth and the stomach is known as the esophagus. Everything we eat passes through this muscular pipe, which is commonly known as the food pipe. Food from the mouth moves to the pharynx (located after the mouth) and passes to the esophagus.
The normal function of the esophagus is to carry the bolus, other liquids and saliva from the mouth to the stomach, where the actual process of digestion begins. This transportation process that takes the food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach is automatic.
The stomach is 30.5 centimeters in length and 15.2 centimeters wide. It is a hollow organ that lies between the esophagus and the small intestine.
The stomach is one of the main parts of the digestive system and is divided into 4 sections - cardia, the opening of the stomach that is connected to the esophagus; fundus, which is the top curve of the stomach; corpus, that is the central part of the stomach; and the pylorus, the lowermost part of the stomach from where the food enters the small intestine.
When the food enters the stomach, the enzymes and acids start working on it, and turn it into a semi-liquid form, which then moves into the small intestine.
The liver weighs around 1.5 kilograms or more. It is the second largest organ in our body and is located at the upper right side of the abdominal cavity behind the lower ribs. This reddish-brown organ is also largest gland in the human body.
The liver plays an important role in detoxification. Bile produced by the liver helps in digestion and absorption of fats. It plays a pivotal role in the process of metabolism. It is very difficult to survive without a liver, without which the body cannot function.
The pancreas is about 6 inches long and is located behind the stomach. It produces pancreatic juices and hormones, such as insulin and some enzymes. The secretions made by the pancreas help break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
The pancreas also neutralizes stomach acids. It produces insulin, a hormone that accelerates oxidation of sugar in the cells. The pancreas helps to break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. If enough insulin is not produced by the pancreas, a person may develop diabetes.
The small intestine measures between 6 to 7 meters in length and 2.5 to 3 centimeters in diameter. It connects the stomach and the large intestine. The small intestine is divided into three parts - duodenum (the first section); jejunum (the middle part); and ileum, which is its end part.
In fact, the small intestine is the longest part of the digestive tract, and is the site where the process of digestion is completed. Food that is liquefied in the small intestine enters the large intestine, where absorption of water takes place.
The large intestine stretches up to 1.5 meters. It absorbs water and salts, and helps in excretion of solid waste material. The waste or feces is in solid form, as the large intestine absorbs the water from the waste that is left after digestion.
The large intestine maintains the fluid balance in our body. Constipation, diverticulitis, and diarrhea are some of the disorders of the large intestine.
Every part of the digestive system has a role to play in its own way. One should eat healthy to think better and work better. Proper intake of nutrition is also a must.