The human digestion system is very complex. It starts with the mouth, salivary glands, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, small intestine, large intestine, then ends/exits with the anus. Each step is essential to the whole system. For example, the mouth chews food and mixes it with saliva produced by the salivary glands, and then the pharynx swallows chewed food mixed with saliva, this is followed by the food traveling through the esophagus to the stomach where the food gets a bath and mixes with acids and enzymes. After the stomach, the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder produce, stores, and releases bile and bicarbonates. Bile is produced in the liver and aids in digestion and absorption of fat while the gallbladder
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Factors that affect the amount of time it takes for foods to travel through the digestion tract are caused by nerves and hormones. Even before foods enter our mouth, our bodies are anticipating it. The smell, sight, and taste of foods trigger our brain to send signals through our nerves, essentially turning on our digestion system. According to Grosvenor, 2012 “food entering the stomach increases the rate of gastric secretion and motility by stimulating local nerves, sending signals to the brain, and stimulating the secretion of gastrin, a hormone that triggers an increase in the release of gastric juice” (pg. 74). Another factor that affects the time for food to travel through the digestive system is the nutritional composition of the ingested foods. Dairy products, spicy foods, acidic foods, fatty foods, fried foods, processed foods, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, caffeine, and spoiled foods. These foods can be difficult for a digestive system to process. For example, processed foods lack the fiber that helps regulate bowel movements. Moreover, processed foods contain preservatives, artificial flavors and colorings; these can cause negative effects on digestion, health, and wellbeing.
Once the pancreas starts to produce acids, bile and enzymes, it starts breaking-down the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. The proteins, fats, and carbohydrates that are in the gastrointestinal tract (GI-tract) are broken-down in the digestion