How Digestion Works Part 1

The digestive procedure begins in the mouth where food consumed by us is mechanically broken down and saliva mixes with it to aid digestion. That is the reason, parents always keep instructing children to digest food properly and chew it to small pieces. The food then travels through the Esophagus tube, connecting the mouth and the stomach. This food is then stored, mixed, broken, churned and worked upon by the stomach. The phase, just before the food enters the stomach, is known as Cephalic Phase of the digestive system.

Bodily hunger is controlled by two centers, namely appetite center and satiety center situated in the hypothalamus of the brain. When you hear the stomach growling then it’s the brain, which is signaling an empty stomach to start digestion. The stomach muscles start to move and push but the insides are hollow to be able to digest. This can also occur when the body has been conditioned to eat at specific hours and food is not provided at the destined time.

The stomach roughly has a capacity of a liter and can store, uncomfortably till 2 liters. The food enters the Gastric phase when it is transported to the stomach. Gastric juices in the stomach and muscle tissues assist in breaking the food and killing unwanted bacteria. Gastric juices comprise of hydrochloric acid, pepsinogen and mucus and convert the food into a thick paste like liquid known as Chyme. The food that we eat, takes approximately 2 hours inside the stomach to digest and liquidify; but a high fat diet can make this digestion time go up. Inactivity can be a factor too, for instance a person playing basketball will burn and digest food faster than someone who's just watching TV or playing poker. But a high fat diet can make this digestion time go up.

The chyme is further passed inside the small intestine, which lies beneath the stomach in the human anatomy. The small intestine resembles a 1.5-2 inch thick tube and is approximately 22 feet long. The part behind the belly button is the center for the small intestine. The walls in the small intestine have small, finger-like structures called Villi. These have cells to produce intestinal enzymes, which digest peptides and sugars.

The Intestinal phase starts with this occurrence and the chyme is disintegrated into vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, fats and minerals. The pancreas, liver, and gall bladder aid the small intestine in this mechanism to digest food effectively.

The pancreatic juice helps to digest protein and fats whereas the Bile juice, produced by the liver, serves as a catalyst to absorb fats into the bloodstream. The pancreas is also responsible for making insulin, which controls the amount of sugar in the blood. Inadequate levels of Insulin can result in Diabetes, which is also the second largest cause of blindness in some countries.

The excess bile juice, produced by the liver is stored in the gallbladder for further usage. Many people get their gall bladder removed and live healthily if they keep a check on the intake of fat, as the bile stored in the gall bladder is not available for usage.

Continued » How Digestion works Part 2