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The digestive system has two main functions: to convert food into nutrients your body needs, and to rid the body of waste. To do its job, the system requires the cooperation of a number of different organs throughout the body, including the mouth, stomach, intestines, liver and gallbladder.
Here are 11 facts about the digestive system that may surprise you.
Food doesn't need gravity to get to your stomach.Slide 2 of 25
Food doesn't need gravity to get to your stomach.
When you eat something, the food doesn't simply fall through your esophagus and into your stomach. The muscles in your esophagus constrict and relax in a wavelike manner called peristalsis, pushing the food down through the small canal and into the stomach.
Because of peristalsis, even if you were to eat while hanging upside down, the food would still be able to get to your stomach.Slide 3 of 25
Laundry detergents take cues from the digestive system.Slide 4 of 25
Laundry detergents take cues from the digestive system.
Laundry detergents often contain several different classes of enzymes, including proteases, amylases and lipases. The human digestive system also contains such enzymes.
The digestive system also employs these types of enzymes to break down food. Proteases break down proteins, amylases break down carbohydrates and lipases break down fats. For example, your saliva contains both amylases and lipases, and your stomach and small intestine use proteases.Slide 5 of 25
Your stomach doesn't do most of the digestion.Slide 6 of 25
Your stomach doesn't do most of the digestion.p> It's commonly believed that the stomach is the center of digestion, and the organ does play a large role in "mechanical digestion" — it churns food, and mixes it with gastric juices, physically breaking up food bits and turning them into a thick paste called chyme.
But the stomach is actually involved in very little chemical digestion, the process that reduces food to the size of molecules, which is necessary for nutrients to be taken up into the bloodstream.
Instead, the small intestine, which makes up about two-thirds of the length of the digestive tract, is where most of the digestion and absorption of nutrients takes place. After further breaking down the chyme with powerful enzymes, the small intestine absorbs the nutrients and passes them into the bloodstream.Slide 7 of 25
The surface area of the small intestine is huge.Slide 8 of 25