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Importance of the digestive system

The digestive system is responsible for taking in food, digesting it (breaking it down into its nutrients), absorbing these nutrients into the bloodstream and eliminating undigestible waste.

The digestive tract is a long tube that starts at the mouth and ends at the anus. It is divided into different parts: oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine (or colon) and anus.

Mouth: it is the entrance door. Its functions are chewing and swallowing.

Oesophagus: does not digest food; it simply transports it from the mouth to the stomach.

Stomach: where actual digestion begins. To do this, the stomach produces gastric juice, which must mix well with the food.

Small intestine: this is where the most important part of digestion takes place: the absorption of nutrients.

Large intestine: the first half contains abundant bacteria that form the intestinal microbiota. This microbiota is capable of fermenting waste that has not been digested, thus producing usable substances. The second half of the large intestine collects faeces and then expels them.

The digestive system also includes organs outside the gastrointestinal tract, such as the pancreas, liver and gall bladder.

Disorders of the digestive system

Conditions of the digestive system can range from mild to serious, with the most common problems being:

Constipation: when stools are infrequent or require considerable effort to pass.

Diarrhoea: The most common cause is viral gastroenteritis or epidemic viral gastroenteritis.

Dyspepsia: Stomach pain, or dyspepsia, can occur for many reasons: eating too much, eating too quickly, drinking too much alcohol, taking certain medications.

Gas: this can come from what you eat (some foods are particularly flatulent: white beans, chickpeas, cabbage, cabbage, etc. and some drinks contain gas: soft drinks, cava, beer, mineral water, etc.). There is also part of the intestinal gas that is produced in the digestive tract itself.

Heartburn: a burning or burning sensation located in the upper abdominal area.

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