Anatomy: Digestive System

Whenever we eat or drink, a chain reaction of intense proportions begins.  Teeth and muscles are mashing, pulpy juices are flowing, chemicals are firing and valves are opening and closing with the synchronicity of rocket science.

The digestive system mechanically, chemically and bacterially converts substances to energy, nutrients and waste.  It is regulated by hormones and the autonomic nervous system.

Parts Involved for Digestion

  • Mouth (salivary glands, mucosa, teeth, tongue)
  • Pharynx – the throat, where the digestive and respiratory tracts intersect
  • Esophagus and cardia (the lower esophageal sphincter)
  • Stomach
  • Small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, ileum)
  • Large intestine (cecum, colon, rectum)
  • Anus
  • Liver – secretes bile which breaks down fats and processes nutrients
  • Pancreas – secretes bicarbonate fluid and digestive enzymes

Digestive Fun Facts

From mouth to anus, our digestive system is about 36 feet long.

The stomach can stretch to hold 4 pints (2 liters) of fluid.

Digestion is not easy for animals larger than tiny worms. It requires a major investment of time and energy.

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