Anatomy of the Digestive System

Food gives the body the energy needed for life. The digestive system breaks food down into basic nutrients that can be used by the body. The digestive tract is a long, muscular tube that extends from the mouth through the stomach and intestines to the anus. As food moves along the digestive tract, it is digested (changed into substances that can be absorbed into the bloodstream). Certain organs (such as the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas) help with this digestion. Parts of food that cannot be digested are turned into stool, which is waste material that is passed out of the body.

Digestive system

Outline of man showing digestive system: mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine (colon), rectum, anus, liver, gallbladder, and pancreas.

  • The mouth takes in food, breaks it into pieces, and begins the process of digestion.

  • The esophagus moves food from the mouth to the stomach.

  • The stomach breaks food down into a liquid mixture.

  • The liver makes bile that helps digest fat.

  • The gallbladder stores bile.

  • The pancreas makes enzymes that help in digestion.

  • The small intestine digests food further and absorbs nutrients. What is left is passed on to the colon as liquid waste.

  • The large intestine (colon) absorbs water, salt, and minerals from the waste, forming a solid stool.

  • The rectum stores stool until a bowel movement occurs.

  • The anus is the opening where stool leaves the body.

 

Online Medical Reviewer: Berry, Judith, PhD, APRN
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 3/14/2014
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