Digestion is an essential body function. It keeps your body healthy and functional by breaking down and converting nutrients from the food and liquids we ingest, which it then uses for things like energy, development, and cell repair.
The digestive system is specifically designed to convert food into the nutrients and energy required to survive. Afterward, it neatly bundles your solid waste or stool for disposal when you have a bowel movement.
In this article, we will discuss the function of the digestive system, its importance, and the digestive process.
What is the digestive system?
The digestive system includes the gastrointestinal or digestive tract, pancreas, liver, and gallbladder. With the exception of the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder (which are solid organs), the digestive tract is made up of hollow organs like the mouth and esophagus as well as the stomach and small and large intestine.
Inflammation in any of your digestive organs can affect the entire digestive process and cause discomfort. For instance, Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which happens when the walls of the bowel or intestines are inflamed, can cause stomach aches, constipation, wind, and diarrhea. In this case, a healthy diet that includes high-quality turmeric supplements might help reduce the symptoms. This is because turmeric supports healthy digestion.
Why is digestion important?
Digestion is crucial because the body needs nutrients from food and drink to function correctly and be healthy. These nutrients include vitamins, proteins, carbs, minerals, lipids, and water.
The digestive system functions by breaking down these nutrients into smaller pieces that your body can absorb and utilize for energy, development, and cell repair. Therefore, digestive problems should be handled seriously.
Thankfully, many of these digestive issues can be prevented and managed through lifestyle and diet changes. For instance, medical studies show that the prevalence of IBS symptoms can significantly reduce in individuals who take one or two tablespoons of turmeric powder for eight weeks.
How does food move through my GI tract?
The food you consume makes an extraordinary journey through your body, beginning at the top (your mouth) and ending at the bottom (your anus), and this process is called peristalsis.
Here’s a step-by-step explanation of how the digestive system works.
The peristalsis process starts from the mouth when food is eaten. Here, the tongue moves the food to the throat, where the epiglottis folds it across the windpipe to prevent choking before moving it to the esophagus. The brain then signals the esophagus to move the food to your stomach, where the food combines with digestive secretions.
Once combined, the stomach releases chyme into the small intestine, mixing the food with pancreatic, liver, and intestinal fluids, then pushing it forward for digestion. Here, the small intestine absorbs water and nutrients into the circulation while the waste products of digestion migrate into the large intestine. The large intestine, on the other hand, absorbs water and turns waste into feces.
What happens to the digested food?
Most nutrients in a meal are absorbed in the small intestine and then circulated throughout your body, where they are stored or used. This absorption is assisted by special gut cells, which help the nutrients make it to your bloodstream.
The blood then transports these nutrients (glycerol, vitamins, and salts) to the liver, where they are stored, processed, and distributed to the rest of the body when needed.