Did you know that the mouth plays an important role in our nutrition? It is where the food we eat starts to be digested. What we put into our mouth will determine what nutrition we are getting. It is through the mouth that we make mechanical digestion happen.
The very minute food enters the mouth it goes through the digestion process. There are 2 digestive system function processes that take place in our body. These 2 processes are the mechanical digestion and the chemical digestion.
Mechanical digestion happens in the mouth with the help of the saliva, teeth and tongue. It is the actual break down of food into smaller bits. This makes food easier to digest. The chemical content of the food is extracted during the process. This is largely carried out by by digestive enzymes which are enzymes that break down polymeric macromolecules into their smaller parts, so that they can be absorbed by the body.
There are 2 kinds of mechanical digestion:
- Mastication –the chewing of food using the teeth. The food is broken down to smaller pieces and enables the chemicals in food to be released. These chemicals make digestion quicker and easier.
- Peristalsis - consecutive contractions of muscles found in the alimentary canal. This enables the food particles to mix with enzymes and gastric juices.
Mechanical digestion is done by the teeth, saliva and tongue. Now let us try to see the role that each has to play:
Saliva. The water found inside the mouth that contains ptyalin. This softens food and makes food easier to break down into pieces. This is the beginning of the process of Chemical Digestion. Starches are broken down into maltose and dextrose by adding a water molecule into the starch compound. While food is still in your mouth signals are sent to your brain to begin the stomachs role in chemical digestion where gastric juices are produced in your stomach lining. As food is swallowed and reaches your stomach, more gastric juices are produced which turn into Chyme, which is a thicker, creamier liquid which then starts entering the small intestine.
Teeth. They are used to crush, grind, slice, compress and cut chunks of food we take in.
Tongue. It is where we come to know how the food that we eat tastes. It is flexible muscle that helps move food particles in the teeth. It also helps dislocate food particles in between the teeth. After the food has been grinded in the mouth, the tongue helps push it down the throat.
After the food has been processed in the mouth, it is being swallowed. It passes the esophagus and goes all the way down to the stomach. In the stomach the churning and grinding of the masticated food continues and this is still part of the mechanical digestion of the food we eat.
The digestive system of a human is an intricate and complex system that can be often get disrupted by diet, disease, and emotional stress.
Common digestive problems such as Heartburn/GERD, IBD, and IBS are some of the most common digestive disorders that cause millions of people suffering and can quite considerably affect their lifestyle. Other common digestive symptoms are diarrhea, gas, bloating, stomach pains and cramps. Finding out all you can about how the digestive system works may well help with coping with these problems.