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Digestion is the process by which the body breaks down food into nutrients that can be absorbed and used by the body. Digestion involves a series of complex chemical and physical processes that begin in the mouth and end in the small intestine. This article will explore the different stages of digestion, the organs involved in the digestive process, and some common digestive disorders.

Blausen 0316 DigestiveSystem

Stages of Digestion

  • Digestion can be divided into several stages:
  • Ingestion: The process of taking food into the mouth.
  • Mechanical digestion: The physical breakdown of food into smaller pieces through chewing and other mechanical processes.
  • Chemical digestion: The breakdown of food into smaller molecules through the use of enzymes and other chemicals.
  • Absorption: The process by which nutrients are taken up into the bloodstream and transported to the rest of the body.
  • Elimination: The removal of waste products from the body.

Organs Involved in Digestion

  • Several organs are involved in the digestive process:
  • Mouth: Food is broken down mechanically through chewing and mixed with saliva, which contains enzymes that begin the process of chemical digestion.
  • Esophagus: Food is moved through the esophagus and into the stomach through a series of muscle contractions called peristalsis.
  • Stomach: Food is mixed with stomach acid and digestive enzymes, which break down the food further.
  • Small intestine: Nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream through the walls of the small intestine.
  • Large intestine: Water is absorbed from undigested food, and waste products are formed into feces.
  • Rectum: Feces are stored in the rectum until they are eliminated from the body through the anus.
Digestion chambers -- very high mag

Common Digestive Disorders

  • There are many digestive disorders that can affect the digestive system, including:
  • Acid reflux: A condition in which stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus, causing heartburn and other symptoms.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): A chronic condition that affects the large intestine and can cause abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in bowel habits.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): A group of conditions that cause inflammation in the digestive tract, including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • Celiac disease: An autoimmune disorder in which the body reacts to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, causing damage to the lining of the small intestine.

Also see

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