The Digestive System
The digestive system is a group of organs working together to change the food we eat into energy our bodies need. Digestion begins in the mouth and ends in the large intestine. Digestion is important for breaking down food into nutrients, which the body uses for energy, growth, and cell repair. Food and drink must be changed into small nutrients to be absorbed in the bloodstream and then carried to cells throughout the body.
The digestive system starts to work before you take your first bite of food! When you think about food, smell food, or even taste food, your body begins to form saliva, or spit, in your mouth. The saliva, teeth, and tongue help to break down the food as you chew it. This process is the beginning of the digestive system.
As you eat, the food moves along through a long tube inside your body known as the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract). While you’re eating, your tongue keeps on sending food to your esophagus, a stretchy pipe that moves the food to your stomach.
Once the food you eat is in your stomach, it continues to be broken into smaller pieces with the help of gastric juices. The stomach slowly empties the food, now in a more liquid form, into the small intestine.
Your body absorbs nutrients, vitamins, water, and minerals through the walls of the small intestine and moves them into the bloodstream. The nutrients move throughout the body through the bloodstream. The large intestine removes the waste products of digestion out of your body as a solid called stool. The large intestine also works to absorb water to be used by your body.
You can help your digestive system work properly by drinking plenty of water, eating foods that have a lot of fiber, and chewing food thoroughly.