Follow your food!

You eat a meal. And then a bit later... you do a poo! But what happens in between? NG KiDS takes a juicy journey down through your digestive system to find out where your grub goes…


It takes around 24 hours for your dinner to wind its way through the nine-metre-long digestive tract. On its trip, it's mixed with acids and digestive juices, and squeezed and squelched until all the nutrients that the body needs are absorbed. Then, the smelly leftovers, along with billions of dead bacteria, are ready to exit the body. Plop! Let's follow your food to learn about the brilliant bits of our bodies that make up the digestive system.


The Human Digestive System


1. MOUTH


It all starts here! Up to 28 strong teeth* chomp your food, breaking it into smaller bits. Meanwhile, the tongue keeps moving the food around, shifting it to the type of teeth that will be best at munching it. It also squeezes the chewed grub into swallowable lumps, pushing them back towards the throat. Gulp!


Fast fact
: When you swallow, a little flap of cartilage called the epiglottis closes off the windpipe so food doesn't go down there by mistake. 

* Most grown-ups have 32 teeth. You usually grow four ‘wisdom’ teeth between the ages of 17 and 24.


2. OESOPHAGUS


Also known as the gullet, this 25cm-long tube contracts to shift chewed food down to your stomach. The squeezing motion of the muscles is called peristalsis and it occurs throughout the digestive system. A slimy mucus is also oozed from the oesophagus to help the food on its way. Easy does it!

Fast fact: Thanks to peristalsis, food would get to your stomach even if you were standing on your head!



3. STOMACH


Next stop – the stomach! This stretchy muscular bag is about the size of a tennis ball when it's empty, but expands to the size of a football to store a massive meal. As soon as food plops inside, the stomach lining releases digestive juices and acid that break down the food even more, killing harmful bacteria. Muscles slosh and squelch the food together with the juices until it becomes a sloppy soup called chyme that’s ready to be squirted into the small intestine

Fast fact: The acid in your stomach is so strong it could dissolve an iron nail!* To stop your stomach digesting itself, it’s lined with a protective mucus, and your stomach cells are replaced every few days.

* Please do not eat a nail. Ever.


4. SMALL INTESTINE


Despite the name, this section of your digestive tract is really not that small – it's a whopping 6.5-metres-long! It's in this 3cm-wide tube that all the nutrients in your mushed-up food pass through the small-intestine lining into the blood. Once all the goodness is gone, the sloppy mixture passes to the next part of the intestines…

Fast fact: The lining of the small intestine is covered with teeny finger-like bumps called 'villi'. They give the lining a large surface area to help with absorption.


Villi in the small intestine


5. LARGE INTESTINE


More than twice as wide as the small intestine, but only 1.5-metres-long, the job of the large intestine is to soak up water, salts and minerals from the indigestible leftovers. Finally, the remaining semi-solid waste, called faeces, travels to the lower colon and rectum for storage. When you go to the loo, a ring of muscle called the anus relaxes to allow the poo out! Super and stinky!

Fast fact: Your small and large intestines together are known as your bowels!



A. SALIVARY GLANDS


Most of the slimy liquid in your mouth is produced by three pairs of salivary glands. This saliva moistens food, making it easier to swallow. It’s also full of chemicals called enzymes that help to break down food. Amazingly, just the smell of good grub can make your mouth start to water!

Fast fact: Your salivary glands can produce up to six cups of saliva per day. Squelch!



B. LIVER


This busy brown organ is your largest internal organ and has about 500 different jobs! It’s like a chemical processing factory – blood carries nutrients there from the small intestine, then the liver decides what to do with them. It also gets rid of toxins (substances that can be harmful to the body), recycles old blood cells, makes bile and other digestive juices, and produces, stores and releases glucose (to give you energy).

Fast fact: About one third of the body’s blood flows through the liver every minute!




C. GALLBLADDER


The role of this green, pear-shaped organ is to store bile and make it thicker and stronger before adding it to the small intestine.



D. PANCREAS


Your pancreas makes chemicals called enzymes which help digest nutrients in your food. It also makes insulin, a hormone which helps control your blood sugar levels. 



E. APPENDIX


Doctors used to think that this thin little organ was useless – a leftover body part from early humans. But today it’s thought that the appendix stores 'good bacteria' that can help your digestive system work again after you’ve been poorly.


Rumbling Tummies

 



Images taken from SuperHuman Encyclopedia, published by DK priced £16.99. Find out more at dk.com. With thanks to Dr Dewi Byrne.


Your Comments

nathanbuttomley
cool yo
nathanbottomley
lol my nan
legand
LOLLLLLLL
yournan
lol rekt
nathanbottomley
my nan is awsome
vunu
very nice pics!!
abel
asum e
Ng
wow
awhyeahhhhh
Now this just feels right.
Grace678984
It is interesting but that is another word for poo
Rheya
Wow! this was a crazy website BTW love my avatar!
spooki
scary
RossANDRACHEL
hi f.r.i.e.n.d.s is awesome i like season 8 and emma is cute. MOO
xaqjajahzhs
what are the two types of digestion? please help!!!!!
PengiunMaster42
That really happens in my body?!?
broboy
weird but true!
broboy
this is so weird but cool
Jel
Wow! I never knew what happened when food got digested
DinosaursForeva
Cool!
B-l-u-e2626
Helpful facts
IMAFROG
this is sooooooooooo interesting I used this for homework about the rainforest :)
larab
Cool
BEN
These facts are cool
Ellie-Elephant
Awesome!
Aishah
that is sooooo cool
geff
that is nice
xXx_sweglord_xXx
I am hungry
WHAMWHAM
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WHAMWHAM
cccoooolllll!!!!!!
duck
this is so good Im at school,
Aimz
wow I did not know all that, but now I do, yay!!!
Nicolette
Wow, that's awesome!
A6--3
Wow!! Really interesting fact about tummy rumbles! They have explained the facts thouroughly which makes it really interesting
science
cool!!!!!!
superboy1000
this is awesome
superboy1000
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caleb
I did not know that
12344
awsome
Rosie
I just learn this and it was great!
Funkymonkey123
That is ssssssooooooooo interesting!!!!! I really, really want to be a Doctor when I grow up
Rose
That is so so so so so good I never new that
wolE
WOWERS
superkid1111
its amazing everyone has that inside them
Jahnavi
I did not know that, it was cool!
ameesha
I was thinking what to do for school when I thought why not this it got a very good explanation of how you digest your food
Ria
I am doing a bit about the body so this was very useful.

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