Digestive Health

Human digestive system

The human gastrointestinal system (digestive system, GI tract, and alimentary canal) is a series of joined organs from the mouth to the anus. Gut includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, colon, and rectum. The role of the gut is to push the food intake from the oral cavity (mouth) to the large intestine (colon), extract and absorb nutrients across various parts of the intestine, more specifically from the small intestine, and excrete the waste in the form of stool. Thus, the gut is responsible for the digestion and absorption of ingested food and liquids which is essential for sustaining and protecting the overall health and wellness of our human system and to stay healthy. There are many good bacterias in our gastrointestinal tract, which is also called gut flora or microbiome, which plays the main role for digestion.

human-digestive-stysted-image
Significance of digestion

Digestion is an important process in the human body for disintegrating food into macro and micronutrients which body uses for energy, growth and cell repair. In this process, Proteins are broken down to amino acids, Fats broken into fatty acids and glycerol, Carbohydrates broken into simple sugars.

Mechanism of Digestive process

The process of digestion starts from the mouth. Where the digestive enzymes help to mechanical mastication of food which then passes to stomach through the esophagus (muscular tube connecting mouth to the stomach). The stomach promotes the food to further liquefy by secreting the gastric juices. After the action of gastric juices and enzymes, stomach contents (also called as chyme in this stage) are slowly get released to the small intestine. The chyme is further mixed and churned in the small intestine. Pancreas and liver secrete the enzymes in the small intestine to react with the chyme to break into very smaller particles which are absorbed into the bloodstream.

Parts of Digestive system and their functions

Mouth
mouth

Mouth is the opening part of the digestive system where the process of digestion starts after the ingestion or consumption of food or any solid materials. Food or solid materials partly dissolves in saliva and chewing breakdowns the food or any solid materials.

Pharynx

From the mouth, the broken down food or solid materials passes into the pharynx towards the esophagus.

Esophagus
mouth

It is present near windpipe also called as Trachea. It is a tube which connects the pharynx with the stomach. By peristalsis which is also called as contractions of muscles, the esophagus delivers food or solid materials to stomach.

Stomach
stomach

Stomach retains the food or solid materials while it is being mixed with acids secreted by the stomach and with various enzymes which further break down the food or solid materials. From the stomach, the broken contents are moved to small intestine.

Pancreas, Liver & Gallbladder
mouth

In duodenum digested product is mixed with digestive juices from pancreas, liver and gallbladder.

Pancreas

Pancreas releases the digestive enzyme which helps to disintegrate proteins carbohydrate and fats.

Liver

Liver is also called as body's chemical factory. Bile a digestive enzyme produced by the liver into the small intestine which place and a crucial role for digesting the fats.

Gall bladder

It serves as a reservoir for bile, a yellow brown digestive enzymes produced by the liver. When food enters into the small intestine cholecystokinin hormone is released, which signals the gall bladder to contract and secrete the bile.

Small Intestine
intestine

Small Intestine is divided as a segment into the duodenum, the jejunum and the ileum. Small Intestine is a 22 feet long muscular tube which breaks down the contents as received from the stomach using various enzymes released by the pancreas and bile from the liver. Peristalsis movement is involved to break down the contents. Duodenum is responsible for breaking down the contents. Ileum and jejunum are responsible for the absorption of water and nutrients. The broken contents stay for longer period in the small intestine for better absorption into the bloodstream and then the contents move to large intestine or colon.

Large intestine (Colon)
colon

Large Intestine is divided as the cecum (the beginning of the colon) the ascending (right) colon, the transverse (across) colon, the descending (left) colon and the sigmoid colon. The entire divided parts are 6 feet long muscular tube that connects the small intestine to the rectum. The solid waste contents are passed to the large intestine from small intestine based on peristalsis as by muscle contraction, during the process more water and nutrients are absorbed to form a stool. As stool moves in colon towards rectum the water is removed. For healthy humans, it takes 36 hours for a stool to get through the large intestine and when the descending colon is full it starts the process of eliminating the stool into the rectum.

Rectum

The rectum connects the colon to the anus. Once the stool moved towards the rectum from the colon, the process of evacuation from the human system happens. It is controlled by sphincters for the process of contraction and relaxation in the rectum to evacuate the stools.

Anus

Anus follows the rectum and it is the last part of the digestive tract. The anus is controlled by sphincter muscles that are important in allowing control of stool. It also consists of pelvic floor muscles and two anal sphincters (internal and external muscle rings) work together to stop a stool from coming out. The sphincter muscle is tight, except when stool enters the rectum. Both the voluntary and involuntary sphincters control the movement of stool during the process of excretion.

The network between gut and brain

For optimal digestion process, gut serves as a communication center to the brain. Human brain helps to decide what, when, how much, and how fast to eat and drink. Gut and brain play an important role in our stress level and state of mind.

Indications of an unhealthy gut system

For optimal digestion process, gut serves as a communication center to the brain. Human brain helps to decide what, when, how much, and how fast to eat and drink. Gut and brain play an important role in our stress level and state of mind.

Digestive issues like gas and bloating
Sugar cravings
Bad breath
Food allergies
Mood swings
Anxiety
Depression
Skin issues like acne eczema
Joint pain
Autoimmune disease and suppressed immunity

Reference