Disruption of the Digestion cycle

How does the body digest food?

We may not be aware, but our digestive system does so much work for us. It is responsible for taking whole foods and turning them into energy and nutrients to allow the body to function, grow, and repair itself. There are six primary processes of the digestive system and include:

  • Ingestion
  • Secretion of fluids and digestive enzymes
  • Mixing and movement of food and wastes through the body
  • Digestion of food into smaller pieces
  • Absorption of nutrients
  • Excretion of wastes



Ingestion, or intake of the food is the first function, and happens through the mouth. Through the mouth, the food enters the body, undergoes maticiation and initiation of the digestion process.

Secretion of hydrochloric acid

The digestive system secretes around 7 liters of fluids, unbelievable, right? These digestive fluids are a mix of saliva, mucus, hydrochloric acid, enzymes, and bile. Saliva helps to moisten dry food and aids in swallowing. It also contains a digestive amylase, which helps in digestion of carbohydrates. The hydrochloric acid is secreted by the stomach which helps to digest food. In addition, it helps in killing harmful bacteria present in the body. Bile, is used to emulsify large masses of lipids into tiny globules for easy digestion.

Mixing and Movement

Three main processes help in mixing and moving the food from one part of the digestive system to the other.

Swallowing is an effortless process which we do with the help of our muscles in the mouth, tongue, and pharynx. When swallowing, we push the food out of the mouth, through the pharynx, and into the esophagus. Peristalsis is process largely responsible for movement of food through the digestive tract. It is a muscular wave that moves partially digested food a short distance down the tract.

Segmentation is a process that occurs only in the small intestine. It involves contraction of the segments of intestine to move the food forward.


Digestion is not a separate process, as it starts right in the mouth when the food is being masticated and swallowed. It involves turning large pieces of food into its component chemicals. Digestion involves mechanical methods such as physical breakdown of large pieces of food into smaller pieces, and chemical methods such as chemical breakdown of large pieces of food into smaller pieces. Saliva, pancreatic juices, and gastric juices help in chemical digestion of food. Bile produced by the liver is also used to mechanically break fats into smaller globules.


The stomach can absorb simple molecules such as water. Most of the absorption takes place in the intestine. The intestine wall has finger like projections that increase the surface area for effective absorption. The blood vessels in the intestine circulate the absorbed chemicals to the rest of the body. Water, Vitamin B and K are absorbed in the large intestine.


Excretion is the final process and involves the excretion of waste. This process is also called as defecation. It involves removal of substances that the body is unable to digest.