Digestion is the process by which the body breaks down the food we eat into usable components. Our bodies use food similarly as a car engine uses gas– and this gives us the energy needed to live. When we put food into our mouths digestion has already started – because digestion means breaking food down into smaller molecules!
As we chew with our teeth, food is already broken into smaller amounts. Saliva helps to moisten the food and the tongue positions the food to move down the throat when we swallow. A tube called the esophagus then carries the food to the stomach.
This tube is lined with muscles that squeeze and push the food into the stomach. Your stomach is a sack like structure located just below the heart that makes digestive juices (acids and enzymes) that work to break down our food into a thick liquid or paste called chyme.
Although we might not think of it as such, the stomach is a muscular organ that contracts and expands in order to mix the food with digestive juices. Food usually remains in the stomach for about two hours after which it enters the small intestine.
The most important part of digestion takes place in the small intestine, because as the liquid food paste travels through the small intestine, nutrients (vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and fats) are absorbed and whisked off through your bloodstream and travel to all your body cells and body systems to keep you healthy and growing and to replenish the immune system!