The digestive system

Historical representations of digestion

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What is the current model of digestion?

Chewing food grinds it up and moistens it. At this stage, salivary enzymes start to break down carbohydrates. Once food has been swallowed, it quickly travels down the oesophagus to the stomach. Here, contractions churn the bolus of food and mix it with gastric juices. This churning motion and the enzymes in the stomach work together to produce a liquid that then goes down into the small intestine. Pancreatic juice and bile complete the digestive process enabling nutrients to be absorbed. Anything that has not been assimilated goes into the large intestine, where water and minerals are absorbed. Finally, waste materials are emptied away through the anus.
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