Five organs form the long inner tube of our food processing system.
The MOUTH chews food and mixes it with enzymes in saliva. Swallowed food then descends into the stomach via the ESOPHAGUS, which is simply a muscular tube.
The STOMACH is mainly a churning chamber of acid, but also produces digestive hormones, most importantly intrinsic factor, which is required for vitamin B12 absorption by the small intestine.
Enzymes from the pancreas and bile from the liver/gallbladder empty into the SMALL INTESTINE to finish digesting food. The vast majority of nutrient absorption takes place in the “small” intestine, which is over 20 feet long in adults. Its smart cells decide which food particles to absorb and which to pass up. Dietary fat is required for absorption of many vitamins and nutrients, including vitamins A, D, E and K.
Leftovers enter the COLON (large intestine) which absorbs water and salts from food. Bacteria living in the colon ferment undigested food, generating by-products such as gases, ammonia, vitamins, and nutrients, some of which can enter our bloodstream.
Conditions affecting the tract include: Barrett’s esophagus, reflux (GERD), gastritis, peptic ulcer disease, IBS, Crohn’s Disease, appendicitis, Celiac disease, diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis, and colon cancer.