The Digestive System

Subject: Science
Type: Exploratory Essay
Pages: 3
Word count: 779
Topics: Biology, Health, Medicine

The gastrointestinal system is one of the critical systems found in the human body. The gastrointestinal structure consists of a set of organs which labor collectively to transform food into energy and nourishment for the body. Once food enters and leaves the mouth or oral cavity, it is conveyed through an extensive tube known as the gastrointestinal tract. The alimentary canal or gastrointestinal tract consists of organs which are involved in the digestion of food and they comprise of liver, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, gallbladder, small intestines, pancreas, oral cavity, and large intestines. It is important for medical practitioners not only to understand the particular location of the organs of the digestive system but also to be competent in how they explain the organ locations to both patients and medical colleagues.

Nourishment begins its journey from the alimentary canal in the oral cavity. The pharynx or throat is linked to the posterior end of the oral cavity (Fox, 2006). The pharynx is tasked with conveying the already-masticated food from the oral cavity to the esophagus. The  esophagus links pharynx to the stomach. The esophagus conveys gulped food along its length. The cardiac sphincter is located at the lower end of the esophagus to close the esophagus end.

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The stomach is positioned on the left-hand side of the abdomen, just a bit inferior to the diaphragm. The stomach continues the digestion of food which originally started in the oral cavity. The small intestine which is located just inferior to the stomach is part of the lower alimentary canal (Sherwood, 2015). The small intestine is responsible for the further breakdown of food and absorption of nutrients. The liver which is positioned on the right-hand side of the stomach is a bit inferior to the diaphragm but a bit higher than the small intestines. The liver creates bile of which is delivered into the small intestine to assist in the breakdown of food. Basically, gallbladder which contains surplus bile is positioned just next to the liver. The pancreas is situated a bit lower and just next to the stomach. The pancreas discharges enzymes into the small intestine which aid in digestion. Finally, the large intestine which is positioned just lower than the stomach and cloaks around the higher and adjacent margin of the small intestine absorbs water.

The digestive system is highly dependent on the equilibrium of both pH and useful bacteria which ensure that homeostasis is maintained. The digestive system organs are favored by either acidic or basic conditions. Saliva which is produced in the mouth is slightly acidic to enable the initial digestion of food and to avoid damaging components of the mouth such as teeth and the subsequent pharynx organ. On the other hand, the stomach is highly acidic so as to facilitate an effective breakdown of food and also to protect the body from detrimental bacteria. The small intestine is highly basic for balance since many digestive enzymes are unable to function correctly in an environment with a low pH. Furthermore, useful bacteria greatly assist in the digestive system by sustaining homeostasis (Stearns et al., 2011). For instance, intestinal microflora helps yield vitamins, safeguard against destructive bacteria and assist in the making of excrement.

The way of communicating the digestive system to a patient would be different from communicating the same to a medical colleague. First, I would refrain from using complicated medical terms when communicating with a patient. For instance, when describing the alimentary canal, I would prefer using the word mouth rather than an oral cavity. Furthermore, I would use simpler terms when describing the location of organs in the digestive system. For instance, I would describe the stomach as being located between the esophagus and the small intestine in the upper abdomen rather than the location description I gave above which is suitable for a medical colleague. Module 1 enhanced my thinking in that I was able to understand how to communicate medical terms to a patient who has no deep knowledge of the human body systems. Module 1 challenged me to always take my time to ensure that I communicate effectively, depending on whom I am relaying information.

The digestive system is responsible for the conversion of food into energy and nutrients. The digestive system consists of several organs all of which have their specific locations and pH preferences to ensure that they function effectively. It is critical that the pH levels and helpful bacteria in the digestive system are maintained to ensure the proper functioning of the system organs. In addition, it is important for medical practitioners to differentiate between their patients and colleagues when explaining systems in the human body.

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  1. Fox, S. I. (2006). Human Physiology 9th Editon McGraw-Hill press, New York, USA.
  2. Sherwood, L. (2015). Human physiology: from cells to systems. Cengage learning.
  3. Stearns, J. C., Lynch, M. D., Senadheera, D. B., Tenenbaum, H. C., Goldberg, M. B., Cvitkovitch, D. G., … & Neufeld, J. D. (2011). Bacterial biogeography of the human digestive tract. Scientific reports, 1, 170.
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