The human body performs a series of functions. Virtually all still performs its duty even during sleep. The procedure is set, and every component function in order as programmed. The only thing the body needs to keep going is energy!
This energy is distributed through our blood. Our arteries and veins serve as the channel through which it is obtained. Where does the blood get the energy?
The topic of my article answers that. How the body process what we eat and drink is referred to as the digestive system. The main purpose of this system is to break down molecules so that they can enter our cells. This system is concerned with the three main molecules: Carbohydrates, Proteins, and fats. These are all digested at different stages in different parts of the digestive tract. Mechanical digestions take place in the mouth while most chemical digestions occur in the small intestine. After all the organic molecules are absorbed by the blood, all that is left is leftover and water. The large intestine is responsible for any water left in the feces. This process is performed according to what the body needs. If an excess amount of water is absorbed, then constipation occurs. However, if a low level of water is absorbed, we suffer from diarrhea. Thus, the absorption has to be in acquiescence to what the body needs.
It all seems quite simple to us, doesn’t it? Well even though it looks fairly simple in theory, this system is designed to function very precisely. Every compartment of the digestive tract is so unique, and they all have to work together harmoniously. Food gets from one end of the digestive tract to the other with the help of involuntary muscles that contract and relax in the form of a movement called Peristalsis.
This involuntary muscle is found in the junction of the airway and the esophagus. When food passes through this area, a flap protecting air passage called the epiglottis closes the airway and pushes food into the esophagus. These series of contractions and relaxations must be done in exact order and timing or else choking, or vomiting may occur. The incredible thing there is all we have to do to start this process is to simply swallow! The rest is involuntary, we do not need to think about when to contract or relax which muscle.
The large intestine is also a beneficiary of these muscles. The phenomenon here helps separate fully-drained content from partially-drained content. This is very helpful during defecation. This way, only fully-drained content is ejected. Otherwise, we might unknowingly, eject feces for which drainage is incomplete, causing our body to waste water. This sporadic process allows us to feel finished after visiting the toilet. How incredible!
With the illustration stated above, there is no doubt that such a unique system will contain several unique parts. I will be discussing two special part of this system.
First is the little worm-shaped bulge where the small and large intestine meets, the appendix: It is said to be 9cm long and only found in human beings and apes. This structure is kind of mysterious, and there have been many theories on what it does. According to some, it served the useful purpose that gradually lost through evolution. Another viable theory propounds that the appendix serves as an asylum for useful bacteria essential to the digestive system. It is a safe spot for these useful bacteria because it is not within the normal pathway of digestion. These bacteria are useful only when in the intestine. Thus, they could cause serious damage if they were to spread to another part of the body. That is the reason intestines are surrounded by mucus which keeps the bacteria under control inside the digestive tract.
A common illness that is generally known: Appendicitis. Appendicitis is the inflammation of the appendix and may cause the appendix to burst. Which will in turn, spread these bacteria to other parts of the body and cause infection. That is the reason patients diagnosed with appendicitis are quickly taken into surgery to have their appendix removed before bursting occurs. Even though the appendix may look strange in the digestive tract, it too has its purpose.
The Second is the pancreas. The pancreas is a unique structure situated behind the stomach. It is said to be 15-20 cm long and 1.3-2.5 cm wide. It has many functions among which is to secrete a pancreatic juice that contains the digestive enzyme. It breaks down fats into fatty acid and glycerol, protein into amino acid and Sugar and starch into simple sugar. The amazing thing here is that without this pancreas the food we eat will just stay in our body without any function. It serves as a means by which the food we eat is transformed to what the body needs. Insulin is a hormone among the several hormones secreted by the pancreas. Its function is to regulate the amount of sugar in our blood. And also it is programmed to produce the amount of insulin the body needs to regulate the sugar in our blood.
If the pancreas is unable to produce the necessary amount of insulin needed by the body, it results in an illness generally known to us as diabetes. It is a serious illness that could lead to kidney problem and may even cause death if it is not given medical attention quickly.
Patients that are diagnosed with diabetes are either provided with insulin or may be taken into surgery to have a pancreas transplant depending on the stage the diabetes of the patient. According to the International Pancreas Transplant Registry (IPTR), based at the University of Minnesota, about 14,705 pancreas transplant operation occurred from 1987-2003.
We don’t often think of our food as digested in our human body. This is why it is so incredible that it performs its duty without any putrefaction throughout our lives.