How Does the Digestive System Work?

How Does the Digestive System Work?

The digestive process starts as soon as you place food in your mouth.  The saliva and chewing are the first steps to proper digestion of you food.  Present in saliva are some enzymes that start the process.  In the mouth also exist the presence of good and bad bacteria.  More on bacteria in a minute.

After chewing your food you then swallow.  When you swallow the food will travel the entire length of the GI (Gastrointestinal) tract by a process called peristalsis which is the muscular contractions designed to propel food forward.  This movement is sort of like a wave in the ocean.  Once swallowed the food travel down the throat and esophagus to the stomach.  The presence of food in the stomach initiates the production of acid, which is key in breaking down the food.

A little Digestive Trivia:

How much acid on average will your stomach produce daily?

  • Approximately 2 liters

After the food has been broken down in the stomach it moves on to the small intestines.  This is where food particles are digested and nutrients are extracted.  Whatever remains, is considered by the body to be waste.

More Digestive Trivia:

How long are the small intestines?

  • Approximately 20 feet

The so-called waste now enters the large intestines or as it is often referred  “the Colon”.  Here the water is removed from the waste and absorbed.  The remaining waste material is then eliminated through the rectum and anus.  In colon is lined with a protective mucosal barrier.  A healthy mucosal barrier protects the body from absorbing potentially harmful organisms and toxins.

More Digestive Trivia:

What might cause damage to a healthy mucosal barrier in the colon?

  • Diet, over use of certain types of medications like antibiotics could be one of the culprits, aging, alcohol consumption, stress and much more.

The picture to the right illustrates the environment that we briefly described to you above.  See if you can trace along the picture what we have described.  A picture can speak a thousand words.

Learn more about bacteria and the roll it plays to keep you healthy!

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