The Digestive System

The digestive system is composed of two parts: the alimentary canal and the accessory digestive structures. These two parts of the system work together to break down food into absorbable units and eliminate the non-digested material as feces. Let’s begin by identifying each of the organs in the alimentary canal and the accessory digestive structures.

Choose one organ/structure and post details about it to begin the discussion. Choose a different organ for each of your follow up posts to ensure everyone has an opportunity to contribute.

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Sample Answer


The small Intestine

The small intestine is the organ in the alimentary canal. It is a piece of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, the extensive pathway that food uses to move throughout the body. Food moves into the small intestine after being digested in the stomach. The colon or big intestine is connected to the small intestine. The intestines perform the essential tasks of breaking down and absorbing food nutrients and hardening waste (Wang et al., 2020) There are three portions in the small intestine: the beginning, the middle, and the end. Although there isn’t much difference, each has a different function and unique qualities.

The duodenum, the first segment of the small intestine, receives the stomach’s contents. A small descending duct wraps around the pancreas in the shape of a “C” before joining the rest of the coiling intestines (Wang et al., 2020) It is around 10 inches long. The remnants of the small intestine are wrapped around the belly button. Less than half of its remaining length comes from the jejunum, the middle part. The dense network of blood vessels in the jejunum gives the organ a deep crimson color. The longest section of the digestive system is the ileum, the last segment of the small intestine. Blood flow reduces when the small intestine wall starts to constrict and shrink. The portion of the digestive system where food spends the most time is called the ileum, which allows for the highest hydration and nutrient absorption.

The duodenum receives ducts from the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas, and these organs are responsible for the last steps of digestion, which are assisted by these secretions. When food is present, hormone glands on the duodenum lining cause these organs to produce these substances. When food enters the jejunum from the duodenum, it has already completed the first (chemical) digestion stage and is undergoing further breakdown by muscular contractions. Before being combined with fluids for digestion, food is divided and churned (segmented) by intestinal muscles stimulated by neurons in the gut wall. Other muscle contractions also continue to advance the meal regularly (peristalsis) (Jang et al., 2018). Before the small intestine joins the big intestine, it passes through the ileum. The ileocecal valve separates the ileum from the colon. The valve opens to let food in and shuts to keep germs out in response to nerve and hormone signals. Immune cells that have been trained to combat infections line the ileum.

The small intestine is lined by thick mucosa and is home to several secretory and absorptive glands (Jang et al., 2018). The jejunum and ileum’s mucosa secretes small amounts of lubricating mucus and digestive enzymes to help nutrient absorption. The many compartments may absorb water and a range of nutrients. Due to its many folds and protrusions, the mucosa has around 100 times more surface area than your skin. As a result, your small intestine absorbs 95% of the proteins and carbohydrates you consume. The body absorbs almost all of the water it takes in. The large intestine will absorb the rest.


Jang, C., Hui, S., Lu, W., Cowan, A. J., Morscher, R. J., Lee, G., … & Rabinowitz, J. D. (2018). The small intestine converts dietary fructose into glucose and organic acids. Cell metabolism, 27(2), 351-361.

Wang, Y., Song, W., Wang, J., Wang, T., Xiong, X., Qi, Z., … & Chen, Y. G. (2020). Single-cell transcriptome analysis reveals differential nutrient absorption functions in human intestine. Journal of Experimental Medicine, 217(2).

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