(Stomach, Abdominal and Digestive problems)
The digestive tract, also known as the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, starts at the mouth, continues to the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine (commonly referred to as the colon) and rectum, and ends at the anus. The entire system — from mouth to anus — is about 30 feet (9 meters) Long.
Digestion begins with chewing. Teeth, which are part of the skeletal system, play a key role in digestion. In carnivores, teeth are designed for killing and breaking down meat. Herbivores’ teeth are made for grinding plants and other food to ease them through the digestion process.Saliva, which is secreted by the salivary glands in the mouth, contains an enzyme, salivary amylase, which breaks down starch.
Swallowing pushes chewed food into the esophagus, where it passes through the oropharynx and hypo-pharynx. At this point, food takes the form of a bolus — a small round mass — and digestion becomes involuntary. A series of muscular contractions, called peristalsis, transports food through the rest of the system. The esophagus empties into the stomach. The stomach gastric juice, which is primarily a mix of hydro-chloric acid and pepsin,starts breaking down proteins and killing potentially harmful bacteria. After an hour or two of this process, a thick semi-liquid paste called chyme forms.
At this point the pyloric sphincter valve opens and chyme enters the duodenum, where it mixes with digestive enzymes from the pancreas and acidic bile from the gall bladder. The next stop for the chyme is the smallintestine, a 20-foot (6-meter) tube-shaped organ where the majority of the absorption of nutrients occurs. The nutrients move into the bloodstream and are transported to the liver.
The liver creates glycogen from sugars and carbohydrates to give the body energy and converts dietary proteins into new proteins needed by the blood system. The liver also breaks down unwanted chemicals, such as alcohol, which is detoxified and passed from the body as waste.
Whatever material is left goes into the large intestine.The function of the large intestine, which is about 5 feet long (1.5 meters),is primarily for storage and fermentation of indigestible matter. Also called the colon, it has four parts: the ascending colon, the transverse colon, the descending colon and the sigmoid colon. This is where water from the chyme is absorbed back into the body and feces are formed primarily from water(75percent), dietary fiber and other waste products. Feces are stored here until they are eliminated from the body through defecation.
DISEASES OF THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM:
Many problems can affect the GI tract, including:abdominal pain, blood in the stool, bloating, constipation, diarrhea,heartburn,incontinence, nausea and vomiting and difficulty swallowing.
Among the most widely known diseases of the digestive-system is colon cancer. This is typically a slow-growing cancer that is often survivable if caught early.
Many diseases and conditions of the digestive system—including irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance, diverticulitis, GERD,Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, peptic ulcer and hiatal hernia — can be chronic and are difficult to diagnose and treat. Many of the diseases of the digestive system are tied to the foods we eat, and many sufferers must restrict their diets.
TESTS TO DETECT DIGESTIVE TRACT AILMENTS:
A colonoscopy is the examination of the inside of the colon using a long, flexible, fiber-optic viewing instrument called a colonoscope.Other testing procedures include upper GI endoscopy, capsule endoscopy,endoscopic retrograde cholangiopan creatography and endoscopic ultrasound.
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