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In some cases, a single organ is in charge of a digestive process. For example, ingestion occurs only in the mouth and defecation only in the anus. However, most digestive processes involve the interaction of several organs and occur gradually as food moves through the alimentary canal ( [link] ).

Digestive processes

This image shows the different processes involved in digestion. The image shows how food travels from the mouth through the major organs. Associated textboxes list the different processes such as propulsion, chemical and mechanical digestion and absorption near the organs where they take place.
The digestive processes are ingestion, propulsion, mechanical digestion, chemical digestion, absorption, and defecation.

Some chemical digestion occurs in the mouth. Some absorption can occur in the mouth and stomach, for example, alcohol and aspirin.

Regulatory mechanisms

Neural and endocrine regulatory mechanisms work to maintain the optimal conditions in the lumen needed for digestion and absorption. These regulatory mechanisms, which stimulate digestive activity through mechanical and chemical activity, are controlled both extrinsically and intrinsically.

Neural controls

The walls of the alimentary canal contain a variety of sensors that help regulate digestive functions. These include mechanoreceptors, chemoreceptors, and osmoreceptors, which are capable of detecting mechanical, chemical, and osmotic stimuli, respectively. For example, these receptors can sense when the presence of food has caused the stomach to expand, whether food particles have been sufficiently broken down, how much liquid is present, and the type of nutrients in the food (lipids, carbohydrates, and/or proteins). Stimulation of these receptors provokes an appropriate reflex that furthers the process of digestion. This may entail sending a message that activates the glands that secrete digestive juices into the lumen, or it may mean the stimulation of muscles within the alimentary canal, thereby activating peristalsis and segmentation that move food along the intestinal tract.

The walls of the entire alimentary canal are embedded with nerve plexuses that interact with the central nervous system and other nerve plexuses—either within the same digestive organ or in different ones. These interactions prompt several types of reflexes. Extrinsic nerve plexuses orchestrate long reflexes, which involve the central and autonomic nervous systems and work in response to stimuli from outside the digestive system. Short reflexes, on the other hand, are orchestrated by intrinsic nerve plexuses within the alimentary canal wall. These two plexuses and their connections were introduced earlier as the enteric nervous system. Short reflexes regulate activities in one area of the digestive tract and may coordinate local peristaltic movements and stimulate digestive secretions. For example, the sight, smell, and taste of food initiate long reflexes that begin with a sensory neuron delivering a signal to the medulla oblongata. The response to the signal is to stimulate cells in the stomach to begin secreting digestive juices in preparation for incoming food. In contrast, food that distends the stomach initiates short reflexes that cause cells in the stomach wall to increase their secretion of digestive juices.

Hormonal controls

A variety of hormones are involved in the digestive process. The main digestive hormone of the stomach is gastrin, which is secreted in response to the presence of food. Gastrin stimulates the secretion of gastric acid by the parietal cells of the stomach mucosa. Other GI hormones are produced and act upon the gut and its accessory organs. Hormones produced by the duodenum include secretin, which stimulates a watery secretion of bicarbonate by the pancreas; cholecystokinin (CCK), which stimulates the secretion of pancreatic enzymes and bile from the liver and release of bile from the gallbladder; and gastric inhibitory peptide, which inhibits gastric secretion and slows gastric emptying and motility. These GI hormones are secreted by specialized epithelial cells, called endocrinocytes, located in the mucosal epithelium of the stomach and small intestine. These hormones then enter the bloodstream, through which they can reach their target organs.

Chapter review

The digestive system ingests and digests food, absorbs released nutrients, and excretes food components that are indigestible. The six activities involved in this process are ingestion, motility, mechanical digestion, chemical digestion, absorption, and defecation. These processes are regulated by neural and hormonal mechanisms.

Visit this site for an overview of digestion of food in different regions of the digestive tract. Note the route of non-fat nutrients from the small intestine to their release as nutrients to the body.

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Questions & Answers

The central part of the body
Alex Reply
i thought a cell is the fuctional unit of an orgarnism.
mutesi Reply
what is the name for inflammation of middle ear?
Madu
otitis media
Chidiebere
Explain the major features and properties of the cell membrane
Robina Reply
contants ofa lipid bilayers w the enbedded proteins it is faction of the cell membaren
bariise
it is made up of protein,fat and a small portion of carbohydrates. it is semipermeable but impermeable to uncharged water molecules.
Chidiebere
Describe an experiment to verify the law of constant composition
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Robina
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unimarwat
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Noah
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Madu Reply
vertebral arteries and cerebral arteries
Chidiebere
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Madu Reply
there are four. the coronal, sagittal, squamous and lambhoidal sutured
Chidiebere
structure of a cell
Robina
pelvic cavity contents?
unimarwat Reply
ilium ,ischium ,pubis
Madu
but that is the three parts of the hip bone
Chidiebere
Describe the muscular skeletal system in terms of definition.. Skeleton Apendicular skeleton Axial skeleton Joints
Sherrine Reply
the basic framework of body made and cartilage is called skeleton skeleton which form limbs is called appendicular skeleton skeleton which form main axis of body is called axial skeleton the points at two or more bones meets is called joints
unimarwat
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mutesi Reply
cranial nerves notes
unimarwat
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ROHIT Reply
what is Anatomy
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it's a organs and bouns reading
AJITH
Cutting Up
Nonie
Cutting Up
Nonie
to dissect
Nonie
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Abdullateef Reply
too much salt in the diet
Abuusu
older age
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Even family history of high blood pressure
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yes
Yaqub
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stress is the leading factor
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smoking and too much alcohol consumption
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obesity can also cause hypertension
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sex
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Male
Vikas
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guys, read the question, involuntary pumping of heart causes the blood pressure in the arteries, he has not asked about high or low BP.
Jess
explain the cellular mechanism that produces tetanus and summation
Jenica Reply
epithelial cells polerity
jitendra Reply
tissues
Deepak
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the red blood cells is in the long bones or flat bones?
isbii
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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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