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Digestive System

All the parts of the digestive system form a coiled tube. This tube is
called the alimentary canal or digestive tract. The food we eat passes
through this tube during the process of digestion so that it can be changed
into simpler substances that can be used by all our body cells. The parts of
the digestive system differ in their structure and function.


The mouth is the first part of the digestive tract. The tongue and the
teeth are found in the mouth. The inside of the mouth is lubricated with
saliva that comes from the salivary glands. The strongest muscles are found
in each side of the mouth. They help move the lower jaw and give it a biting
There are four types of teeth in the mouth. The incisors are used in
cutting food. The canines are used for grasping, piercing and tearing. The
premolars and molars are used for crushing and grinding. Aside from tasting
food, the tongue is used for moving the food as the saliva softens it. We have
three pairs of salivary glands. Saliva from these glands lubricates the food
and makes it soft. Saliva also contains an enzyme that breaks down starch.


From the mouth, food goes down the esophagus through the pharynx or
throat. The esophagus is a muscular tube that can open and close at the
pharynx. It can also open and close to the stomach. The walls of the

esophagus consist of smooth muscles. The wavelike movement of these

muscles, called peristalsis, pushes the food down to the stomach.


The stomach is a hollow muscular organ shaped like a bag. Its upper
end is connected to the esophagus while the lower end is connected to the
small intestine. The upper and lower ends of the stomach have smooth
circular muscles called sphincter muscles. When the upper end muscle
relaxes, the stomach opens and food gets in. When the lower end muscle
relaxes, partially digested food moves out of the stomach. The sphincter
muscles keep the food in the stomach.

The stomach is flexible and can expand when you eat. It can hold from
1 to 3 liters of food. The stomach acts as a storage bag of food. If the
stomach could not store food, you would have to eat every twenty minutes
or so instead of just three times a day. The stomach contains three layers of
smooth muscles which also produce peristaltic movements to continue
breaking down the food.


The intestines are found below the stomach and liver. They form the
major part of the digestive tract. The small intestine is about 2.5 centimeter
in diameter and 6 meters long. Its wall are made of smooth muscles. The
inner lining of the small intestines is folded into tiny fingerlike projections
called villi (singular, villus). Each villus contains blood vessels. The work of
the small intestines is to digest food, which can then be absorbed by the
blood. The villi act much like the same as the folded towels. Because the wall
of the intestine is folded into millions of villi, the surface area through which
nutrients pass to the bloodstream is greatly increased. If the villi on the inner
lining of the small intestine are flattened out, they would cover about 4500
square meters.
The large intestine is about 5 centimeters in diameter and about 1.8
meters long. Its main part of the colon. At the end of the colon is the rectum
which opens to the anus. The work of the large intestine is to absorb water
from the undigested food, hold the undigested food for a while and then
excrete it as feces.

joeldgreat (2010). Parts of the Digestive System and their Functions. Retrieved from:


Prepared By: Ms. Novy Grace N. Arca