The Process of Digestion Over the course of time there have been many difficult questions and theories about everyday life. Using physiology & chemistry, those questions have been able to be answered. From the mixture of gases in the air we breathe to the organic substance of plastic or paper, chemistry can be seen everywhere. However, most people mistook the power of chemistry in our own bodies. How is it that a simple slice of bread, once consumed, can turn into fuel for the human body?
Using the digestive system and its many organs through the process of digestion and etabolism is how our bodies receive the energy it needs to continue on throughout the day and the rest of our lives. Chemistry then kicks in as food starts its process from entering to leaving the body, through the rate of our metabolism, and also by the transfer of energy. The chemistry in the digestive system is a very important process, because without it there would be no human life. Compared to all other systems in the body, the digestive system is one of the most diverse and important.
According to Robert Sullivan the digestive system is a set group of organs whose unction is based on the process of turning food, absorbing nutrients for energy and getting rid of the bodies waste (Sullivan, 2008, p. 33). The organs that are in the digestive system are the following: esophagus, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, colon or large intestine, rectum and anus (Ballard, 2003). Imagine eating a nice dinner with delicious smelling food. Now, imagine eating the food. Have you ever wondered where your food has gone once you consume it?
Through your digestive system where the mass of food undergoes a process called digestion. Digestion is the chemical and physical breakdown of food into forms such as energy or nutrients that can be used by the bodys cells (McKenzie, 2010). The whole process starts in the mouth. The mouth contains a watery substance called saliva. Saliva is important to the whole process of food digestion, because not only does it help with sensing taste, but it is also made up of enzymes that break down the fats and starches in food at a molecular level.
The esophagus is a tube where swallowed food travels down to the stomach. The stomach is a muscular sac that acts as a blender nd mixes food with acid, hydrochloric acid, which breaks down the swallowed chum and flushes the nutrients into the small intestine (Columbia University, 2010). The hydrochloric acid in the stomach is so powerful it can eat through a leather shoe. However, the stomach contains other chemicals, such as gastric acid, mucus and enzymes that also soften food (Sullivan, 2008). The result thus far in the process of digestion in the stomach is now called chime (Sullivan, 2008).
Once the stomach has done its Job digesting the food, your dinner, now chime, travels to the small intestine where the final stage of digestion takes place. The remaining food is separated as either waste or nutrients. The nutrients are absorbed and taken in as fuel for the body while the waste enters the large intestine and passed through the rectum and anus to leave the body. It’s fascinating to know that your dinner gets chemically organ has a specific role that is carried out through many different means.
From growing to learning our body needs energy to work, but how can food be turned into energy? It can be turned into energy through each person’s unique metabolism. The main reaction that takes place in the digestive system is called Metabolism. Metabolism takes place everywhere, but mainly in the stomach where is breaks down substances into smaller molecular forms, which gives the body energy (Online School Edition, 2011). Our metabolisms are chemical reactions that are carried out through a microcellular catalyst called an enzyme.
Enzymes help chemically break down large nutrients, proteins, fats and carbohydrates into smaller forms of amino acids, fatty acids and simple sugars (Online School Edition, 2011). Amino acids and fatty acids are mainly where we get our energy from. The whole process starts when we eat and our metabolism breaks down the food. The amino acids and fatty acids are absorbed into the blood where once they attach to a cell, they are then able to speed up the chemical reactions taking place while the amino and fatty acids are monitoring the reactions in the cell some energy is released.
This energy can be stored in the body until it is needed (Online School Edition, 2011). There are two forms of metabolism called anabolism and catabolism. Anabolism is storing energy and maintaining cells while catabolism is all about making energy so that each cell has a specific amount to function properly (Ballard, 2003). The bodys metabolism is made up of many reactions that produce heat or a calorie. A calorie is a basic unit of heat that measures how much energy a fixed proportion of food brings into the body. Calories are used to regulate the fat in our bodies too.
If a person consumes too much calories then the calories will turn into fat. The process of metabolism in each person’s body is very unique and different. Some metabolisms run slow, which results in less calories burned and others burn rather quickly, which results in fewer calories (McKenzie, 2010). Whatever the rate of metabolism, many can agree that this rocess is diverse and complicated, but also very fundamental to everyday life. As everything else in the body, our enzymes need energy to keep the metabolism in a constant flow, this is where ATP comes into the equation.
ATP, Adenosine Triphosphate, is the major source of energy in the human body. ATP plays a major factor in fueling our bodies by providing and storing energy. A normal ATP molecule has a strong bond called a phosphodiester bond, which stores energy that only releases when the body needs it (Ballard, 2003). The structure of the ATP molecule is very exclusive; because it has an oxygen molecule that is connected to three hosphorous groups, hint the name triphosphate. When one phosphate group is taken away the ATP molecule turns into ADP.
ADP is always trying to be regenerated to ATP where there is a higher energy level. Think of it like a battery. When the battery is running low, you recharge it, Just like ATP and ADP. When an ADP molecule is running low on energy more energy from food replenishes the energy that was lost, which adds a new phosphate group making the molecule convert from ADP to ATP (Ballard, 2003). Without ATP there wouldn’t be any energy that could be provided for the cells to use in the body.
The next time you eat many chemical reactions in your body will occur, however you are mainly recharging your body with fuel and nutrients for it to continue on with the day. In the digestive system there are heat, and more. Even today more chemists are elaborating on new discoveries and important facts of the many process and reactions in the digestive system. Perhaps the latest discovery in this field would be the new diet plans that tend to speed up the process of metabolism which makes cells, including fat, break down faster resulting in a thinner waist.
The digestive system is unique and different from all ther systems in the body because it has many organs that each have their own important role, a specific process of where food travels, and finally multiple reactions through metabolism and other processes through ATP that convert the food we eat into fuel. Without the digestive system the body would fail and there would be no human life. Therefore, it is important to accept the essential role that chemistry plays not only a huge role in human life, but in all life. Now as you eat your Thanksgiving meal with your family this year, you can imagine the whole process from start to finish!