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How Your Digestive System Works

How Your Digestive System Works

GIDOCJHB is dedicated to providing high-quality health care and support for patients with digestive problems.

We are known to be patient-centred and are focused on privacy and value.

When you experience digestive discomfort, we provide relief in the form of advice and other treatment methods.

Dr Schneider has extensive training in diagnosing and treating conditions affecting the oesophagus, stomach, intestines, pancreas, liver, and gallbladder.

We aim to identify the source of symptoms and create a care plan tailored towards treating the problem area.

 

digestive system function - How Your Digestive System Works

What is the Digestive System?

Think of your body like an engine. The human body uses the process of digestion to break down food into a form that can be absorbed and used for fuel.

The organs of the digestive system are the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, large intestine, and anus.

Understanding how these organs work together to digest food is key to understanding how digestion works.   

 

Why Is Digestion Important?

The digestive system carries out three important purposes: mixing food, moving food through the digestive tract (peristalsis) and using chemicals to break down food into smaller molecules.

In other words, when we eat everyday foods such as vegetables, bread, and meat, they are not in a form that the body can use as nutrients.

Our food and drink must be changed into smaller molecules of nutrients before they can be absorbed into the blood and carried to cells throughout the body for us to focus and live more healthy.

Digestion is the process by which food and drink are broken down into their smallest parts so that the body can use them to give you energy and to repair and grow your body.

 

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How Does my Digestive Process Work?

digestive system health - How Your Digestive System Works

Each part of your digestive system helps to move food and liquid through your GI tract, break food and liquid into smaller parts, or both.

Digestion begins in the mouth, where food and liquids are taken in.

It ends in the small intestine. Some people assume that it ends in the anus but it is the anus from where the digested food is removed.

The Mouth

Your digestive process begins as you chew food in your mouth. To help you absorb different foods, your saliva helps break down what you’re eating and turn it into chemicals called enzymes.

The Esophagus

Once you’ve swallowed your food it needs to travel down the oesophagus to reach the stomach (which is the pipe that connects your mouth to your stomach.)

This means that food can only travel in a single direction regardless of your body position, so you could even stand on your head while eating and food will continue to move through your oesophagus to your stomach (although this is not recommended).

The Stomach

After food enters your stomach, the stomach muscles mix the food and liquid with digestive juices. The stomach slowly empties its contents, called chyme, into your small intestine.

The Small Intestine

Most nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine, where food is broken down even more by enzymes released from the pancreas and bile from the liver.

Anything left in the small intestine moves into the large intestine, which is also known as the colon.

The Large Intestine (colon)

The bulk of what enters the colon is excess liquid waste matter. It is here that much of the water is re-absorbed, which changes the waste into a soft, solid form known as a stool (faeces).

The colon separates the waste into small segments and pushes them into the lower colon. The lower colon stores this stool until it is moved to the rectum for elimination as faeces.

The Rectum

This is a chamber about 8 inches in length that receive the stool from the colon and holds it until you poop.

It has sensors that send a message to the brain, which then decides whether to release the sphincter muscles, contract the rectum, and expel the faeces.

 

healthy digestive system - How Your Digestive System Works

How to Protect the Digestive System

Your digestive system is uniquely designed to ensure that the food you eat is converted into nutrients that you can then use for energy, growth, and cell repair – in other words, for the essentials you need to live.

Here are a few tips that will help protect your digestive system and help you live a more healthy life:

Be Mindful of Your Diet – eating a good amount of fats, proteins, fibre and vegetables help to move your food through your intestines.

Learn More About the Food You Eat – read the ingredients before you buy food and become better informed about your nutrition.

For example, there are two types of fibre – soluble and insoluble. Both have an important role to play in digestion.

Drink Enough Water – Water helps dissolve fats and soluble fibre and helps food pass through your intestines.

Exercise Frequently – Keeping active is good for your health, and particularly for your digestion

Try to Not Stress Much – stress and anxiety are very damaging to your digestive system. Too much stress can also lead to serious digestive disorders.

 

Frequently Asked Questions About the Digestive System

 

How long does it take for food to travel through my system?

The majority of the trip can take up to 36 hours

Is eating lots of fibre that important?

Yes. Fibre is a component of all plant-based foods, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and it benefits your digestion and reduces your risk of chronic disease.

How much bowel movements should I have a day to be considered healthy?

The frequency of bowel movements varies from person to person and can be anywhere from three a week to three a day.

Most people will find that they have a regular bowel pattern that works for them.

The digestive system is responsible for breaking down the food. True or False?

True. The digestive system is responsible for getting food into and out of the body.

    DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

    The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.