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Structures of G.I Tract, Digestive Organs and Process of Digestion

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Right from the esophagus to the anus, a four – layered wall characterizes the digestive tract. The innermost layer is the Mucosa, which consists of gastric glands. The mucosa is made up of three layers each with distinct functions: The epithelium, the lamina propria and the muscularis mucosae. The epithelium hosts the goblet cells, which secretes mucus for protection and lubrication; and the endocrine cells, which secretes hormones into blood. The lamina propria is made up of aerolar connective tissue and provides nutrients to the epithelium, distributes hormones produced and absorbs products of digestion from the lumen. It also contains MALT, which has lymphocytes and macrophages for defense. As the name suggests, the muscularis mucosae is a layer of smooth muscle responsible for movements such as generation of folds in the stomach and small intestines to increase the mucosal absorptive surface area (Simon, 2005).

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The sub mucosa is located outside the mucosa. It is a layer of dense irregular connective tissue that links the mucosa to the smooth muscle fibers. It contains glands such as the Brunner’s glands, which yields digestive juices.

The Muscularis Externa is a layer of muscle. In the mouth and pharynx for example, it consists of the skeletal muscle, which aids in swallowing. Smooth muscle comes is seen to act in the peristaltic movement of food down the esophagus. In the stomach and small intestines, formation of sphincter muscles is another example of how it acts (Smith, & Morton, 2001).

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Finally, the Serosa is a serious membrane covering the muscularis externa. In the digestive system, the adventitia lines the muscularis externa of the oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus and rectum. The visceral peritoneum lines the stomach, large intestines and the small intestines. The mesentry connects the small intestines to the rear abdominal wall while the mesocolon attaches the large intestines to the rear of the abdominal wall.

Digestive organs and process of digestion

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Before being absorbed into the body cells as nutrients, food materials undergoes a series of transition. In the mouth, food is masticated and acted upon by saliva, which is produced by the salivary glands. Saliva has enzyme amylase which act on starch. The food bolus is channeled up through the esophagus aided by peristaltic motion, to the stomach. Enzyme pepsin acts on proteins converting them to amino acids.  HCL secreted by the parietal cells, pepsinogen into active pepsin and destroys pathogens that may be in food. The food is then mixed with gastric juice and converted into chyme. At the small intestines, pancreatic juices from and bile further acts on the chyme. Nutrients such as carbohydrates and proteins are absorbed. Undigested food particles are pushed to the large intestines where water is absorbed and the remaining proceeds to the anal cavity for elimination as feces.

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