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Digestive System

The only time we ever think about our digestive tract is when we are hungry or if we are sick and have ‘tummy troubles’. Otherwise, we take everything for granted.

The digestive tract has a big responsibility and there are quite a few parts to it.

The main purpose is the break down the food that we eat into tiny pieces so that the body can absorb the nutrients.

Digestion is divided up into two types. The actual physical part of breaking down the larger pieces of food into smaller pieces when we chew is called ‘mechanical digestion’.

The enzymes that our bodies use to break the food down to even tinier pieces and then into molecules are called ‘chemical digestion’.

The saliva that we have in our mouth is incredibly important. While the first job is to moisten the food so that it helps in the mechanical digestion and swallowing, it also contains enzymes that kick start the chemical digestion of those foods that contain starches.

Digestive System Facts for Kids

  • Did you know that a man’s small intestine is smaller than a woman’s?
  • We hope you don’t do this but if you were to stretch your digestive system out it would be 29 feet long.
  • When you eat food, it takes seven seconds to reach your stomach.
  • The large intestine is responsible for taking water and minerals from leftover food.
  • The small intestine is responsible for sending all the nutrients from your food into the bloodstream.
  • Your liver produces something called bile which is used to process nutrients.
  • Your pancreas secretes something called enzymes which is then used by the small intestine.
  • When you eat something the muscles in the esophagus will tighten and essentially push food down the small tube.
  • The large intestine is basically the final part of the digestive system it includes the colon, appendix, cecum, and the rectum.
  • Did you know that on average, salivary glands produce almost 1.5 liters of saliva every day?
  • When you chew something, it turns into a small round slurry mass that is produced to help you swallow. This is called ‘bolus’.
  • At the back of the throat here is a flap of tissue that is called the ‘epiglottis’. It is part of the pharynx and automatically closes when
  • you swallow so that food doesn’t go down your windpipe (trachea).
  • Once food that is in the condition of ‘bolus’ is swallowed, it travels down through the esophagus and into the stomach. This process takes about seven seconds from start to finish.
  • The stomach is a resilient organ in the body. It is stretchy and, if a part of the stomach is removed, it will slowly grow and stretch itself back to almost a normal condition.
  • The stomach of an adult is actually very small in volume when it’s empty. It can expand to hold up to 1.5 liters of food when it is in a full condition.
  • Hydrochloric acid is secreted in the inner walls of the stomach. The purpose of this is to kill bacteria and, working with proteases enzymes, it helps to digest the food.
  • The stomach protects itself from the hydrochloric acid with a lining of thick mucus. A stomach ulcer occurs when there is part of the mucus missing and the hydrochloric acid begins to eat away at the stomach.[/greenbox]

 

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When food enters the esophagus, it begins to tighten and then relax in what has been called a ‘wave-like’ process. The official name for the process is called ‘peristalsis’ (pear-eh-stal-sis) and this pushes the food down the small tube. This holds the food down.

A disorder called ‘Acid Reflux’ allows a buildup of the stomach acids that actually push the food and the acids back up into the esophagus. Medication and dietary changes can help to keep the problem from happening.

Once the food has entered into the stomach, there are enzymes that are called ‘proteases’ that being the process of breaking down the proteins and getting it ready to send to the small intestines. The saliva that is present, called ‘amylases’, breaks down the carbohydrates and a chemical called ‘lipases’ breaks down the fats that you have consumed.

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You might notice that when you are hungry, your stomach emits a rumbling noise.

This is called borborygmi and are caused by the peristalsis or wave-like muscle contractions at the walls of the small intestines and the stomach.

It is normal and happens even when your stomach is full. It sounds louder when your stomach is empty because there isn’t any food to muffle the sounds.