The digestive system

Historical representations of digestion

Home TeachersDigestive systemHistorical representations of digestion

Digestion starts in the mouth and is completed when the stools are excreted, about ten metres from the start and 24 to 40 hours later, or even more.

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Nowadays, we are aware that digestion is a complicated process. What happens is that food is firstly ground, then moistened as it is chewed. At this point, carbohydrates start to be broken down by salivary enzymes. Once swallowed, food quickly travels down the oesophagus.

Contractions churn the alimentary bolus in the stomach, mixing it with the gastric juices. Together, this churning and stomach enzymes produce a kind of liquid which can penetrate into the small intestine. Pancreatic juices and bile complete the digestive process and enable nutrients to be absorbed. What has not been assimilated goes into the large intestine, and here water and minerals are absorbed by the body. Finally, waste materials are emptied away through the anus.

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