This is the last place where water and some minerals are absorbed before the rest goes out of the digestive system in the form of a bowel movement. “What is left at this point is roughage or fibrous food particles that can’t be absorbed,” explains Koch. “Bacteria ferment some of this roughage into vitamins and most of the remaining liquids are absorbed here.” “Our digestive system should be appreciated because of its essential reason for existence getting the nutrients that keep us alive,” says Koch. He also points out that we should appreciate how much pleasure we get from a healthy digestive system . “The smell and taste of food, the pleasure of swallowing, and of feeling pleasantly full after a good meal are important parts of being human. And importantly, of course, we really are what we eat.” This section created and produced exclusively by the editorial staff of EverydayHealth.com.
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Digestive System: Facts, Function & Diseases
Description of the digestive system The digestive tract, also known as the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, starts at the mouth, continues to the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine (commonly referred to as the colon) and rectum, and ends at the anus. The entire system from mouth to anus is about 30 feet (9 meters) long. Digestion begins with chewing. Teeth, which are part of the skeletal system, play a key role in digestion. In carnivores, teeth are designed for killing and breaking down meat. Herbivores teeth are made for grinding plants and other food to ease them through the digestion process. Saliva, which is secreted by the salivary glands in the mouth, contains an enzyme, salivary amylase, which breaks down starch.
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The small intestine Once in the duodenum, the food is mixed with more digestive enzymes from the pancreas and bile from the liver. Food is then squeezed into the lower parts of the small intestine, called the jejunum and the ileum. Nutrients are absorbed from the ileum, which is lined with millions of finger-like projections called villi. Each villus is connected to a mesh of capillaries. This is how nutrients pass into the bloodstream.
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