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Getting to Know Our Digestive System. How it works?

Human Digestive System

Human digestive system - Page 2 of 3
The pharynx, esophagus, stomach

<< First stop: the mouth <<
>> The small intestine and the large intestine >>

Second stop: the pharynx. Although it is a common channel for food, fluids and air, the pharynx delineates the voluntary and involuntary processes in digestion. Once the food enters the posterior area of the mouth and into the pharynx, it stimulates receptor areas around its opening and signals the involuntary swallowing (or deglutition) stage. No wonder that in the older times, one can really swallow something pushed down beyond the area of the tongue, no matter how hard the one being forced stops it. Some forms of torture in the ancient times employ this action.

Third stop: the esophagus. This is the area where the term “peristalsis” became famous! Food is being channeled down the esophageal tract through wave-like contractions or peristalsis, which involves the two layers of muscles lining the esophagus. During peristalsis, the longitudinal muscles contract first followed by the underlying circular muscles.

Fourth stop: the stomach. Next to the mouth, this is the second area where digestion and absorption takes place. It acts like that of a momentary “storage tank”, where aside from storage, it also facilitates digestion. A third muscle layer or the muscularis externa is added in the stomach, and this is very important since this third muscle layer (aside from the longitudinal and circular muscle layers from the esophagus) allows the stomach to become a churning area, mixing the food and battering it therefore further breaking it down into smaller fragments. Proteins also undergo chemical breakdown in the stomach, where it is broken down by hydrochloric acid (produced by the parietal cells lining the stomach) and pepsin (an enzyme produced by chief cells) into large polypeptides. The food that is processed in the stomach moves on to the small intestine in the form called the chyme, a mixture which closely resembles that of a heavy cream.

<< First stop: the mouth <<
>> The small intestine and the large intestine >>

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