Functions of Human Digestive Organs

Discover how the digestive system works in processing food for energy. LEARN MORE about the Functions of Human Digestive Organs.

OrganMajor functionsOther functions
  •  Ingests foodChews and mixes foodBegins chemical breakdown of carbohydratesMoves food into the pharynx Begins breakdown of lipids via lingual lipase
  •  Moistens and dissolves food, allowing you to taste itCleans and lubricates the teeth and oral cavity Has some antimicrobial activity
  •  Propels food from the oral cavity to the esophagus
  •  Lubricates food and passageways
  •  Propels food to the stomach
  •  Lubricates food and passageways
  • Mixes and churns food with gastric juices to form chyme  Begins chemical breakdown of proteins Releases food into the duodenum as chyme Absorbs some fat-soluble substances (for example, alcohol, aspirin) Possesses antimicrobial functions
  •  Stimulates protein-digesting enzymes  Secretes intrinsic factor required for vitamin B12 absorption in small intestine
Small intestine
  • Mixes chyme with digestive juices  Propels food at a rate slow enough for digestion and absorption Absorbs breakdown products of carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids, along with vitamins, minerals, and waterPerforms physical digestion via segmentation
  •  Provides optimal medium for enzymatic activity
Accessory organs
  • Liver: produces bile salts, which emulsify lipids, aiding their digestion and absorptionGallbladder: stores, concentrates, and releases bile Pancreas: produces digestive enzymes and bicarbonate
  •  Bicarbonate-rich pancreatic juices help neutralize acidic chyme and provide optimal environment for enzymatic activity
Large intestine
  •  Further breaks down food residues Absorbs most residual water, electrolytes, and vitamins produced by enteric bacteriaPropels feces toward rectum  Eliminates feces
  • ·Food residue is concentrated and temporarily stored prior to defecationMucus eases passage of feces through colon

Human Digestive Organs

The digestive system is a complex network of organs that work together to break down food into nutrients that can be absorbed and used by the body. Here are the functions of human digestive organs:

  1. Mouth: The mouth is responsible for mechanically breaking down food into smaller pieces through chewing and grinding. Salivary glands in the mouth also secrete saliva, which contains enzymes that begin the process of breaking down carbohydrates.
  2. Esophagus: The esophagus is a muscular tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. It uses a series of muscle contractions called peristalsis to push food down into the stomach.
  3. Stomach: The stomach secretes acid and enzymes that further break down food and mix it with stomach acid to create a thick liquid called chyme. The stomach also acts as a storage site for food, releasing small amounts of chyme into the small intestine as needed.
  4. Small intestine: The small intestine is where most of the nutrients from food are absorbed into the bloodstream. The walls of the small intestine are lined with villi, which are tiny finger-like projections that increase the surface area for absorption.
  5. Large intestine: The large intestine, also known as the colon, absorbs water and electrolytes from undigested food, forming solid feces that can be eliminated from the body.
  6. Liver: The liver produces bile, which is stored in the gallbladder and helps to break down fats in the small intestine.
  7. Pancreas: The pancreas produces enzymes that are released into the small intestine to help break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

Overall, the digestive system plays a vital role in breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, and eliminating waste products from the body.

Binod G C

I'm Binod G C (MSc), a PhD candidate in cell and molecular biology who works as a biology educator and enjoys scientific blogging. My proclivity for blogging is intended to make notes and study materials more accessible to students.

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