Human body with digestive system diagram


Did you know that our digestive system begins working the moment we smell food? When we smell food, our brain tells us we will be eating, our taste buds come alive, our mouth secrets saliva, and the journey begins! The digestive system’s job is to take the food we eat, remove all the good parts like the vitamins and nutrients and get rid of the rest! The system uses most of our  organs to do this including the mouth, stomach, intestines, liver, gallbladder and the appendix just to name a few! Here’s how this 6-8 hour journey begins!

Where does it go?

The first leg of the journey begins in the mouth where we chew our food and break it down. Our saliva helps us make the food mushy and easy to swallow. Your tongue also helps by pushing the food around while you chew it. When you’re ready to swallow, the tongue pushes the mushed-up food called a “bolus” to the esophagus, a long, stretchy pipe attached to the stomach. An interesting fact to know is when you swallow food or liquids, a special flap called the epiglottis makes sure that it doesn’t go into the opening of your windpipe by covering it. It’s amazing how the esophagus and the epiglottis work together as a team!

After the esophagus swishes and squashes the food, a muscle moves it forward and sends it down to our stomach. This usually takes around 3 to 4 seconds. Once the food hits the stomach, that’s where all the action happens! The stomach goes to work like a mixer, churning and mashing it into small balls of food. The walls of the stomach and gastric juices work like a team breaking it down into a liquid mixture, slowly emptying it into the small intestine!  Sometimes I wonder why they call the small intestine “small.” It’s 22 feet long! That’s like 22 shoes walking down the street! The small intestine breaks down the food so our body can get the vitamins and minerals we need.

Wait! We’re not even finished yet!

We have more stops! Next, the LIVER! The nutrient rich liquid now goes to the liver. The liver snatches all the good stuff and sends the waste off to the Large Intestine. The large intestine takes the water from the waste, returns it back to the body, then sends the remaining waste—which many call “poop,” but is technically “feces”—to the rectum as a hardened material. The last place it goes is out the anus so you can go to the bathroom! Process complete!