A healthy digestive system is essential for good health because it converts food into the raw materials that build and fuel our body’s cells.

The major functions of the digestive system are usually summarized in two words – digestion andabsorption. However these two words do not cover all processes of the GI tract. For the digestive system to start working we first need to place food in our mouth, or ingest it. This is a voluntary process we are in control of. The food then gets propelled from one organ to the next with the help of peristalsis – an involuntary muscle contraction and relaxation of each organ in the digestive system. The food is mechanically broken down in our mouth; the stomach is churning the food and prepares it for further degradation by enzymes. This mechanical breakdown of food refers to the physical fragmentation of food into smaller particles.


is the sequence of steps in which large food molecules are chemicallybroken down to their building blocks by enzymes.


is the transport of the end product of digestion to the blood or lymph. In order for absorption to occur, the digested foods must first enter the mucosal cells of the intestinal wall. The small intestine is the major absorptive site.

One way you can view the digestive system is to think of it as a “disassembly line” in which food is carried from one stage of its processing to the next, and its nutrients are made available to the cells in the body along the way. The digestive system, or the alimentary canal, is often considered an area that is outside the body.

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