Digestive System (Gastrointestinal Tract)

The Human gastrointestinal tract or digestive system is the system by which ingested food is acted upon by physical and chemical means to provide the body with nutrients it can absorb and to excrete waste products; in mammals the system includes the alimentary canal extending from the mouth to the anus, and the hormones and enzymes assisting in digestion.

In an adult male human, the gastrointestinal (GI) are 5 metres (20 ft) long in a live subject, or up to 9 metres (30 ft) without the effect of muscle tone, and consists of the upper and lower GI tracts. The tract may also be divided into foregut, midgut, and hindgut, reflecting the embryological origin of each segment of the tract.

The GI tract releases hormones as to help regulate the digestion process. These hormones, including gastrin, secretin, cholecystokinin, and grehlin, are mediated through either intracrine or autocrine mechanisms, indicating that the cells releasing these hormones are conserved structures throughout evolution.

Accessory organs to the alimentary canal include the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. The liver secretes bile into the small intestine via the bile duct employing the gallbladder as a reservoir. Apart from storing and concentrating bile, the gallbladder has no other specific function. The pancreas secretes an isosmotic fluid containing bicarbonate, which helps neutralize the acidic chyme, and several enzymes, including trypsin, chymotrypsin, lipase, and pancreatic amylase, as well as nucleolytic enzymes (deoxyribonuclease and ribonuclease), into the small intestine. Both of these secretory organs aid in digestion.

The gut is an endoderm-derived structure. At approximately the sixteenth day of human development, the embryo begins to fold ventrally (with the embryo’s ventral surface becoming concave) in two directions: the sides of the embryo fold in on each other and the head and tail fold toward one another. The result is that a piece of the yolk sac, an endoderm-lined structure in contact with the ventral aspect of the embryo, begins to be pinched off to become the primitive gut. The yolk sac remains connected to the gut tube via the vitelline duct. Usually this structure regresses during development; in cases where it does not, it is known as Meckel’s diverticulum.

During fetal life, the primitive gut can be divided into three segments: foregut, midgut, and hindgut. Although these terms often are used in reference to segments of the primitive gut, they nevertheless are used regularly to describe components of the definitive gut as well.

Each segment of the gut gives rise to specific gut and gut-related structures in later development. Components derived from the gut proper, including the stomach and colon, develop as swellings or dilatations of the primitive gut. In contrast, gut-related derivatives—that is, those structures that derive from the primitive gut, but are not part of the gut proper—in general develop as outpouchings of the primitive gut. The blood vessels supplying these structures remain constant throughout development.

The digestive system also is a prominent part of the immune system. The surface area of the digestive tract is estimated to be the surface area of a football field. With such a large exposure, the immune system must work hard to prevent pathogens from entering into blood and lymph.

The low pH (ranging from 1 to 4) of the stomach is fatal for many microorganisms that enter it. Similarly, mucus (containing IgA antibodies) neutralizes many of these microorganisms. Other factors in the GI tract help with immune function as well, including enzymes in saliva and bile. Enzymes such as Cyp3A4, along with the antiporter activities, also are instrumental in the intestine’s role of detox of antigens and xenobiotics, such as drugs, involved in first pass metabolism.

Health-enhancing intestinal bacteria serve to prevent the overgrowth of potentially harmful bacteria in the gut. These two types of bacteria compete for space and “food,” as there are limited resources within the intestinal tract. A ratio of 80-85% beneficial to 15-20% potentially harmful bacteria generally is considered normal within the intestines. Microorganisms also are kept at bay by an extensive immune system comprising the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT).

Of course, the digestive system needs to be cleansed and this is when GRN comes into place. This breakthrough product for cleansing of the digestive system has many benefits, take a look.

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