Digestive System Health
Humans, cars, computers—we all run on fuel. While cars and computers may use gasoline or electricity to maintain their functionality, humans rely on the use of fruit, vegetables, grain, meat, and a variety of other sources of food. Before the human body can utilize the food that we consume, it must be converted in a process known as digestion. Individuals who are interested in learning more about how food is digested should first understand digestive system anatomy and physiology. In addition, the identification of ways in which digestive health can be maintained, and possible diseases and complications associated with the digestive system is important for individuals interested in learning more about this fascinating part of the human body. Individuals who wish to learn more about this topic may want to consult with a physician or registered dietitian for more information.
What Is Digestion?
Proper digestion is essential to the maintenance of human life. It typically refers to the process by which food is broken down into smaller components, for absorption into the bloodstream. Digestion is also sometimes referred to as catabolism, in which large molecules are broken down into smaller ones. Without digestion, the body would not get the fuel that it needs to maintain its functionality. Depending on the type of food being digested, total completion time may vary quite dramatically. For example, while the digestion of foods containing simple carbohydrates may be digested in as short of a time frame as 40 minutes. In contrast, foods high in protein may take significantly longer to digest, and may stay in the body for several hours.
Parts of the Human Digestive System
There are a number of important components of the human digestive system. Some of these include the mouth, esophagus, and stomach. In addition, the small intestine, which is further divided into the ileum, jejunum, and duodenum, combine to form an essential part of the digestive tract. The large intestine, colon, and rectum also end in the end process of digestion.
The Process of Digestion
Digestion begins when food enters the mouth, where it is chewed and broken down by saliva and various enzymes. Upon swallowing, the food enters the esophagus, where it is directed to the stomach for continued breakdown. When the food has been broken down into small enough pieces, it is transported to the small intestine, where nutrients, vitamins, and minerals are absorbed. Finally, the remaining waste material that cannot be used by the body is excreted through the colon for disposal.
How to maintain healthy digestion
Maintaining healthy digestion is essential for individuals who hope to maintain good health. While there are a number of ways in which a healthy digestive system can be maintained, following a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables is especially important. In addition, participating in regularly scheduled physical activity and avoiding activities that can be detrimental, such as smoking or drinking alcohol, can ensure a healthy digestive system. Finally, individuals who are concerned about the health of their digestive tract should be sure to have regular check-ups each year to avoid the development of any chronic conditions.
Possible Digestive system diseases and complications
There are a number of common digestive system diseases that can affect individuals of all ages and races. The most common of these, however, include diarrhea and constipation. In addition, Crohn’s disease, Celiac’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome are all conditions that can negatively affect the functionality of the digestive system. Individuals who are concerned about the development of these or other digestive system diseases should consult with their health care provider to obtain further guidance. In some cases, these conditions can be easily treated, while others may require ongoing supervision and care.
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