Meaning of Digestion

What is Digestion:

The word digestion refers to the action and effect of digesting, that is, of processing and transforming food in the body to obtain energy, whether it is a unicellular or a multicellular organism, such as people and animals.

The term comes from the Latin word digerere, formed in turn from the prefix gave-, which means 'multiple separation', and the participle verb gerere, which means 'carry' or 'carry out'. Also, digestion carries the suffix -uncle (-ción), which means 'action and effect'.

Therefore, digestion will be the action and effect of processing food in the body. The essential of this process is to separate the nutrients from the toxins and residual elements. With this, the digestive system is responsible for distributing nutrients to the rest of the body to transform them into energy, and is also responsible for eliminating toxins and other waste.

In beings with heterotrophic nutrition, that is, that feed on other living beings, the digestive system or digestive system is responsible for carrying out all these processes.

In the case of humans, the basic organs that participate in digestion are: mouth, tongue, pharynx, esophagus, liver, stomach, pancreas, small intestine, large intestine, rectum and anus.

Digestion activities

In general terms, digestion involves four activities of the body:

1) ingestion, which corresponds to the entry of food through the mouth. It begins with the chewing that serves to form the food bolus.

2) digestion itself. It begins with the secretion of saliva in the mouth that begins the decomposition of food, and continues with gastric juices in the stomach, where they are finished processing.

3) absorption. The small and large intestines participate in this activity, receiving processed foods and liquids and absorbing their nutrients.

4) egestion. It is about the process of eliminating toxins and waste. Everything that is not absorbed by the intestines passes into the rectum, where it is stored until it reaches its maximum capacity. At this point, the stimulus of evacuation or defecation is generated.

See also

  • Digestive system.
  • Heterotrophic nutrition.

Chemical phases of digestion

From the chemical point of view, three elementary phases are recognized. Namely:

Cephalic phase

This is the first chemical phase of digestion, the purpose of which is to prepare the mouth and stomach to receive food. In this phase, the cerebral cortex is stimulated through the senses of sight, smell and taste, as well as by thought. Thus, the neuronal centers of the cerebral cortex, the hypothalamus, the brainstem, and the facial, glossopharyngeal, and vagus nerves are activated. All this stimulates the secretion of saliva by the glands of the mouths and the production of gastric juices.

Gastric phase

In this phase occurs the center of the digestive process. The stomach receives food and through various mechanisms, gastric secretion is stimulated, as well as the motility of the stomach. During this phase the stomach is distended by the effect of food. In addition, neural and hormonal processes take place.

Intestinal phase

Once the central process of digestion is done, food is transported to the small intestine. Neural and hormonal regulation processes also take place here. Different hormones participate, on which the nutrient absorption process depends.

While the small intestine is responsible for absorbing proteins and lipids, the large intestine absorbs fluids for hydration of the body and electrolytes. Other substances also participate in these processes.

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