Food provides the fuel you need to carry out all the functions of life. The nutrients that your food gives you, from vitamins to proteins, have specific functions in the body to keep you healthy and support your systems. But your body can not use the nutrients you consume until you break them down into small pieces, then absorb them. Your stomach plays a crucial role in digestion and absorption, but it is only one part of a larger digestive system.
The stomach is the third stop for food along the digestive tract. The digestive tract begins in the mouth and continues through the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, to end in the anus, where it removes its waste. The digestive tract also includes a layer of smooth muscle that moves food from the beginning to the end of the tract. Without that muscle, the food would not be able to reach from the esophagus to the stomach. The entire digestive tract is approximately 30 feet long in an adult. The pancreas and liver also help digestion, creating digestive juices that the body uses to break down food. The gallbladder stores the digestive juices that the liver makes.
Digestion is a necessary part of the absorption process. Food enters your stomach first after you chew it and swallow it. The stomach stores the food and liquids that you eat and mixes it with the digestive juices that are created there. The stomach muscles mix the contents until they break into smaller pieces, allowing the nutrients to be absorbed. The nutrients include vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates and proteins. The different types of nutrients need more or less time to be processed by the stomach and small intestine, before being absorbed through the intestinal walls. Carbohydrates require a smaller amount of time in the stomach to be digested. Proteins need more time and fats even more.
Absorption of nutrients
The stomach breaks down food and passes it to the small intestine. Nutrients enter the bloodstream through finger-like projections called villi, located along the inner wall of the small intestine. Your body absorbs most of the nutrients during the process by which food moves from the stomach to the small intestine, although, in the same way, the large intestine absorbs some other nutrients.The main job of the large intestine is to actually remove the water from the undigested matter and form solid waste for your body to excrete. However, the colon, part of the large intestine, contains bacteria that help with the digestion of any food that reaches the large intestine.
The rectum is located at the end of the digestive tract. It is part of the large intestine. The stools are stored by the rectum until you have a bowel movement and release the waste products through the anus. Your body gets all the nutrients it can from the food and absorbs it before the food reaches the rectum. Everything that is over, your body will not be able to use it, so it will be eliminated.