The Digestive System - Absorption
The digestive system of the human body is a very large and active system that helps us in many ways and has multiple different functions that are happening at the same time. Our body requires us to intake nutritious food to nourish our body and provide it fuel for energy as well as many vitamins and minerals to keep us healthy. The digestive system has multiple different mechanisms from the time we put the food into our mouth, to the time it is being eliminated from our bodies and flushed away. These functions include ingestion, digestion, secretion, absorption, and elimination. (Patton, 2015) For now, we will be taking a look at the function of absorption and what that means.
After we have eaten a meal and the food has been digested by different enzymes, what is left over is what our body will absorb nutrients from. Our body absorbs amino acids, glucose, fatty acids, glycerol, and other important minerals and nutrients. This is one of the main functions of our intestines. In order to absorb the nutrients that our food contained, we must have a variety of enzymes released which help to break down the fats, proteins, and carbohydrates and turn them into what is commonly called “fuel”. Our small intestine is able to absorb this fuel because the lining has multiple circular shaped folds which are called plicae. Each plicae fold is covered with thousands of microscopic villi. Each of these villi contains lymph capillaries which are called lacteals. The lacteals are what absorb fats from the food we have eaten. (Patton, 2015) Our body contains millions of these tiny villi throughout our intestines. When the nutrients are absorbed, they are taken into the blood and lymph and are transported throughout the body. According to Structure & Function of the Body by Patton and Thibodeau, this is an example of form fits function. (Patton, 2015)
Proper absorption of nutrients from our food is vital to maintain a homeostatic balance of health. When our body is not properly using enzymes to break down our food, diseases can occur and we can become malnourished or develop nutrient deficiencies. This can start a domino effect of other problems throughout the body.
Patton, K. (2015). Structure and Function of the Body - Softcover (1st ed.). Elsevier - Health Sciences Division.