FACTS ABOUT THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM Can you imagine that the length of digestive tract or the alimentary canal of an adult is about 30 feet? Read on to know more facts about the digestive system. The digestive system of humans comprises the digestive tract or the alimentary canal and other abdominal organs that help in digestion. The digestive tract is a long tube that extends from the mouth to the anus. The digestive system plays a major role in the body metabolism. Here are some facts about the digestive system. Facts about the Digestive System The digestive tract is made up of hollow organs – mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine and anus. The large intestine is also referred to as colon-rectum. All these organs are lined by a mucous membrane (mucosa). The mucous membrane that lines the mouth, stomach and small intestine consists of glands that secrete digestive enzymes to help the digestion of food materials. The organs of the digestive tract also contain a smooth muscle layer that assists in breaking down the food particles. This smooth muscle layer contracts and propels the food particles along the digestive tract by a process called peristalsis. In addition to the hollow organs of the digestive tract, the digestive system consists of two solid organs viz. the liver and the pancreas. These organs are responsible for secreting digestive juices (e.g. bile) that are circulated to the intestine via the small tubes, referred to as ducts. It is the gallbladder that stores the digestive juices secreted by the liver, until they are required by the small and large intestines. Gallbladder is removed in case of unavoidable disease conditions. An individual without gallbladder can continue normal life, provided he/she takes certain precautions regarding his/her diet. In the process of digestion, food entering the mouth is masticated by the teeth and partly broken down by the saliva. Then, the partly digested food passes the esophagus and travels down the stomach, where it is digested by the acid secretions. The stomach has three major functions – storing the swallowed food, mixing the food with the digestive juices and emptying the digested food to the small intestine. The intestinal wall absorbs the useful nutrients, which are transported to other parts of the body. Finally, the food leftovers move to the large intestines and are passed out as feces. Thus, digestion starts in the mouth and finishes in the small intestine. Quick Facts about the Digestive System and Digestion By now, we all know about the organs in the digestive system and how food is digested. Let’s take a quick look at some interesting facts about the digestive system and the process of digestion. The esophagus of the digestive tract is about 10-14 inch long and 1 inch in diameter. The salivary glands are the first to act on food; by secreting saliva that contains enzymes for catalyzing starch into smaller molecules. Every individual produces 16 to 48 ounces saliva per day. The digestive juices produced by stomach are acidic in nature. An adult stomach has the capacity to hold around 1.5 liters food material. The digestive juices secreted by the pancreas contain enzymes for catalyzing proteins, fats and carbohydrates; whereas liver produces bile juice for digesting fats. About 11 liters of fluid, digestive juices and digested food is circulated in the digestive system, of which only 100 milliliter is excreted as waste product. Well! These are some facts about the human digestive system. It is to be noted that the circulatory system and the nervous system, also play a major role in the functioning of the digestive system and overall digestive health. After all, digestion is the catabolic process of breaking down the complex food materials into simpler forms or nutrients that can be easily absorbed in the bloodstream. The blood circulatory system then carries the nutrients to the various cells of the body, to nourish and provide them with energy. For a person to stay healthy and fit, proper functioning of the digestive system is necessary.
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