What is digestion? Digestion is the breakdown of large insoluble molecules into smaller soluble molecules which can pass through the wall of the gut into the blood. Does that sound complicated? Really, it’s not.
How does it start? Well, first you chew something with your teeth. Which makes the food have a larger surface area then your saliva starts breaking the carbohydrates into sugar.
The food is then pushed down the oesophagus to the stomach by PERISTALSIS . What is peristalsis? Glad you asked that! Here I’ll explain it to you.
Peristalsis is the contraction and relaxation of the circular muscles in the wall of the gut . When the muscle relaxes the food drops down and when it contracts at the top the food at the bottom is pushed down
The food is then in the stomach, the food is churned around by more waves of peristalsis to make it into mush, and it mixes with gastric juice. What on earth is that?
Gastric juice contains and enzyme which breaks down protein It also contains hydrochloric acid which kill bacteria
The food is then released a little bit at a time into the duodenum , which is the first part of the small intestine . Did you know the small intestine is 6m long? Whoa, that’s really long!
One of the juices comes from the pancreas and it breaks down lipids . What are they? They are fats and oils .
Where does the other digestive juice come from? The other digestive juice is call bile . Which is made by the liver and stored in a bag called the gall bladder but it neutralises the acid that was added in the stomach . This helps the small intestine work more effectively.
Bile also helps emulsify the fats. What’s emulsify mean? It means to make the fats into smaller blobs to make their surface area larger. So that the lipase can digest quicker.
The food is now a semi- liquid like a smoothie! It passes into the second part of the small intestine. The walls of the ileum make a digestive juice What does this do?
These enzymes complete the digestion of fats to fatty acids (carbohydrate) to simple sugars and proteins . The intestine is specially adapted for absorption, passing digested food into the blood. It takes a very long to allow time for digestion
The intestines have a very large surface area due to the presence of villi (finger like projections). This allows rapid diffusion of the products of digestion . The villi walls only one cell thick. This helps speed up the diffusion.
Each Villi has a blood vessel and a lymph vessel to carry the food away. Is that all? Not quite, all the food which cannot be digested ends up in the large intestine. It enters into the colon where most of the water is reabsorbed into the blood.
The indigestible remains form a semi solid faeces which is stored in the rectum. Eventually it is passed out the anus. So you might need one of these…
How much did you remember? What is saliva? What does that help break down? What type of food is broken down in the stomach? What happens to food that can’t be digested? What is the function of bile?
Well here’s what I got! 1) It helps break down food and aids lubrication 2) That starts to break down carbohydrates 3) Proteins, by an enzyme called protease 4) It is passed out of the body through the anus 5) It neutralises the acid that was added in the stomach . This helps the small intestine work more effectively.