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Digestive system diagram

Major organs and intestines involved
in the human digestive system.

The responsibility of the digestive system, obviously enough, is to break down food into small enough parts for the body to extract vital nutrients.

However, the way it actually works is an amazing feat which is accomplished by several organs, all working in sync to absorb vital ingredients we need, and to excrete the rest as solid waste (or as liquid waste by the urinary system.)

Digestion starts in the mouth, where our teeth break food down in to more manageable chunks.

From there, food passes down the esophagus and into the stomach, where it is exposed to stomach acid and broken down further.

From the stomach, food enters the small intestine, where food mixes with a wide variety of digestive juices to be gradually broken down and absorbed by the body.

Meanwhile, the liver is responsible for producing another digestive juice — bile — which is stored in the gallbladder, located just behind the liver. At mealtime, bile is squeezed out of the gallbladder through the bile ducts and into the intestine to mix with the fat in food to dissolve it.

Finally, this "fat free" mixture is further broken down by pancreatic enzymes, and moves on to the large intestine, where food that could not be absorbed by the body waits to be excreted as feces.

Keeping the digestive system healthy and happy

Such an amazing process, comprised of so many different parts, does require a certain amount of care to keep healthy.

The stomach is a fairly sensitive organ and sometimes liable to upset, from heartburn for instance which is not only annoying but, especially if chronic, a potential source of more serious health problems later in life. Adequate chewing makes the stomach's job easier, and will relieve any undue stress that the stomach might experience trying to break down large chunks of food.

The large intestine may also be effected by poor digestion, and a resulting condition known as diverticulitis, whereby small food particles get lodged in the intestine walls and cause infection. However, adequate fiber and liquids in the diet will go a long way towards keeping them working smoothly. Staying away from junk foods will also help avoid problems from gallstones that arise when the gallbladder has to work overtime to process a diet high in fat.

More about the digestive system around the Web:

Digestion - Wikipedia
- Complete overview with information and diagrams explaining the organs, acids and other gastric secretions involved in the digestive process with related references and resources.

Digestive System - Pictures of the Digestive System - Click on the interactive illustration for all named parts and functions of organs and intestines that aid in digestion.

Your Digestive System - Excellent guide from Kids explaining how it all works including fun facts, interactive diagrams and related story articles and resources.


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