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how is food digested

Digestion - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


** Digestion **

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the industrial process, see anaerobic digestion. For the treatment of
precipitates in analytical chemistry, see Precipitation
"Entrails" redirects here. For the practice of reading entrails, see

*Digestion* is the mechanical and chemical breakdown of food into smaller
components that are more easily absorbed into a blood stream, for instance.
Digestion is a form of catabolism: a breakdown of large food molecules to
smaller ones.

When food enters the mouth, digestion of the food starts by the action of
mastication, a form of mechanical digestion, and the wetting contact of
saliva. Saliva, a liquid secreted by the salivary glands, contains salivary
amylase, an enzyme which starts the digestion of starch in the food. After
undergoing mastication and starch digestion, the food will be in the form
of a small, round slurry mass called a bolus. It will then travel down the
esophagus and into the stomach by the action of peristalsis. Gastric juice
in the stomach starts protein digestion. Gastric juice mainly contains
hydrochloric acid and pepsin. As these two chemicals may damage the stomach
wall, mucus is secreted by the stomach, providing a slimy layer that acts
as a shield against the damaging effects of the chemicals. At the same time
protein digestion is occurring, mechanical mixing occurs by peristalsis,
which are waves of muscular contractions that move along the stomach wall.
This allows the mass of food to further mix with the digestive enzymes.
After some time (typically 1-2 hours in humans, 4–6 hours in dogs, 3-4
hours in house cats)^[/citation needed/], the resulting thick liquid is
called chyme. When the pyloric sphincter valve opens, chyme enters the
duodenum where it mixes with digestive enzymes from the


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