August 2014

Gastrointestinal System

Gastrointestinal System

The human gastrointestinal or digestive system has one major job, to ingest food, digest it and transform it into energy, and nutrients essential for the body to function. To do this it is divided into two basic parts. 1) the Alimentary canal and 2) the Endocrine and Digestive glands.


The Alimentary Canal

Basically the alimentary canal is a single very long tube which starts within the mouth and ends up at the anus. It is comprised of a number of very specialized component parts all of which are basically made from the very same primitive tissue. Figure 1-1 Demonstrates the alimentary tract in its entirety. Starting at the mouth, it changes in physical appearance and function to become the throat, esophagus, stomach, duodenum, jejunum, ileum (along with the appendix these three parts of the alimentary canal are often referred to as the small intestines), ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, sigmoid colon, rectum and anus.

Each part and area has a unique function. In different areas different functions occurs such as the breakdown of certain types of foods and the removal of certain types of nutrients, water and the bulking of the stool, the left over product of digestion which is eliminated on a periodic basis.


The Endocrine-Glandular System

It is the function and role of this system to make chemicals called digestive enzymes and to release them during the digestive process to facilitate the digestion of food and the extraction of nutrients and essential vitamins and minerals from the food we have just eaten. While not exactly part of the alimentary canal, they enter into the alimentary canal by means of various ducts and tubes that allow these organs to deposit their digestive enzymes into the intestinal tract. The most important of these organs is the liver having many functions beyond it role in digestion. It makes bile which travels into the alimentary canal via the gall bladder and then the common duct which it shares with the pancreas.

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Medical Problems Involving the Digestive System

There are many medical conditions which affect the digestive system or its component part. The digestive system is also integrally involved in extraction of nutrients to maintain metabolic processes and well as provide essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals the body needs to maintain its balance and state of wellness.