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QQI Level 5 Anatomy and Physiology 5N0749 – Unit 4: The Digestive System Assignment Example Ireland

The digestive system is responsible for breaking down food into smaller molecules that can be absorbed by the body. The digestive system consists of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and the accessory organs, which include the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. The GI tract is a continuous tube that runs from the mouth to the anus. The lumen, or hollow center of the GI tract, is where digestion and absorption take place. The lining of the GI tract is made up of epithelial tissue, which contains glands that secrete mucous and juices. These secretions are important to the process of digestion.

In this unit, we will discuss the structure and function of the GI tract. We will also explore the different processes involved in digestion, including ingestion, digestion, absorption, and elimination.

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Learning Outcomes of The Digestive System

When you have studied this unit, you will be able to:

Outline the composition of protein, fats, and carbohydrates

It is important to know the composition of protein, fats, and carbohydrates because this knowledge will help you understand how these molecules are broken down into absorbable forms.

There are 20 amino acids that make up proteins. These amino acids are either essential or nonessential. Essential means that the body cannot synthesize them whereas nonessential amino acids can be synthesized by other cells in the body.

There are three types of fatty acids: saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. Fatty acids can be either essential or nonessential. Essential fatty acids must be obtained from the diet because the body cannot synthesize them.

Carbohydrates are made up of simple sugars such as glucose, fructose, and galactose. There are two types of carbohydrates: complex and simple. Complex carbohydrates are made up of multiple sugars linked together, whereas simple carbohydrates are made up of one sugar.

Identify the parts of the digestive system and its associated organs

The GI tract is a continuous tube that runs from the mouth to the anus. The lumen, or hollow center of the GI tract, is where digestion and absorption take place. The lining of the GI tract is made up of epithelial tissue, which contains glands that secrete mucous and juices. These secretions are important to the process of digestion.

The GI tract is composed of the following parts:

  • Mouth: The mouth is the beginning of the GI tract. It is where food is ingested and mixed with saliva. Saliva contains enzymes that begin the process of digestion.
  • Teeth: Teeth are important for breaking down food into smaller pieces.
  • Tongue: The tongue is responsible for moving food around and mixing it with saliva.
  • Esophagus: The esophagus acts as a pathway to get food from the mouth to the stomach.
  • Stomach: The stomach is a hollow, J-shaped organ that stores and mixes food with digestive juices produced by glands in the wall of the stomach.
  • Pancreas: The pancreas is a gland that produces digestive juices and insulin. The pancreas lies flat against the stomach and has a duct that empties into the duodenum.
  • Small Intestine: The small intestine is also known as the small bowel or “bowel.” It is where protein, fat, and carbohydrate digestion take place. The small intestine is about 20 feet long and is divided into the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum.
  • Large Intestine: The large intestine is also known as the “colon.” The large intestine absorbs water and electrolytes from digested food and stores fecal matter. The large intestine is about 5 feet long and is divided into the cecum, colon, and rectum.

The digestive system also contains these organs:

  • Liver: The liver is responsible for many important tasks in the body. It secretes bile that helps break down fat in the small intestine.
  • Gallbladder: The gallbladder stores bile.
  • Pancreas: The pancreas is responsible for the production of numerous digestive enzymes and hormones, including insulin. It is also responsible for secreting bicarbonate ions that neutralize the acidity (pH) of gastric secretions.
  • Liver: The liver produces bile, which contains salts to help break down food.

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State the functions of each of the four layers of the altimetry canal wall

The four layers of the altimetry canal wall have different functions:

  • Mucosa: The mucosa is the layer that lines the inside of the altimetry canal. It contains glands that secrete mucous and digestive juices.
  • Submucosa: The submucosa is a layer of connective tissue that supports the mucosa.
  • Muscularis: The muscularis is a layer of muscle that contracts to move food through the altimetry canal.
  • Serosa: The serosa is a layer of connective tissue that surrounds the other three layers. It helps protect the other layers and secretes a lubricating fluid that allows the altimetry canal to move easily.

The digestive system is responsible for the breakdown and absorption of food. The process of digestion begins in the mouth, where food is mixed with saliva. Saliva contains enzymes that begin the process of digestion. The teeth are important for breaking down food into smaller pieces. The tongue helps move food around and mix it with saliva. The food then passes through the esophagus and into the stomach.

Identify the parts of the stomach

The stomach is a hollow, J-shaped organ that stores and mixes food with digestive juices produced by glands in the wall of the stomach. The stomach is composed of the following parts:

  • Cardia: The part of the stomach that joins the esophagus. It contains muscle that can push food into the esophagus for swallowing.
  • Fundus: The top part of the stomach near the diaphragm (stomach)
  • Body: The large, middle section of the stomach; also known as the main stomach
  • Pylorus: The lower part of the stomach that empties into the small intestine. It contains a muscle that contracts to push food into the small intestine.

The stomach also contains these glands:

Glands in the lining of the stomach wall produce hydrochloric acid and a protein called pepsin.

The pancreas is a gland that lies behind the stomach and produces digestive juices and insulin. The pancreatic juice contains enzymes that break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The juice also contains bicarbonate ions to neutralize the acidity of the stomach juices.

The liver is a large, reddish-brown organ that lies just under the ribcage on the right side of the abdomen. The liver produces bile, which helps digest fats in the small intestine. The gallbladder is a small, greenish organ that can store bile made by the liver.

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Explain the role of enzymes in the digestion of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates

Enzymes are proteins that speed up chemical reactions. Digestive enzymes break down large molecules of food into smaller pieces, which the body can absorb.

Proteins are broken down by digestive enzymes called proteases. Proteases break down protein chains by removing one amino acid at a time from the end of the chain until it is small enough to be absorbed by the intestine.

Fats are broken down by digestive enzymes called lipases. Lipases break down fat molecules into smaller pieces called fatty acids and glycerol. These molecules can be absorbed into the intestine.

Carbohydrates are broken down by digestive enzymes called carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are converted into glucose, which the body can use for energy. Glucose is absorbed by the intestine and enters the bloodstream. Blood sugar levels are regulated by the hormone insulin, which is produced by the pancreas.

Describe the process of absorption

After food is digested, the products of digestion are absorbed. Absorption allows nutrients to travel through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream.

The small intestine is responsible for most of the absorption that takes place in the digestive system. The small intestine absorbs nutrients, salts (sodium, potassium, chloride), water, and bile from the food. The products of digestion are absorbed through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream in these ways:

  • Passive diffusion: This process is responsible for the absorption of most products of digestion, including water, glucose, amino acids, vitamins (such as vitamin B), and minerals (such as iron). Molecules move down a concentration gradient from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration.
  • Facilitated diffusion: This process is responsible for the absorption of some products of digestion, including certain vitamins (such as vitamin B12) and minerals (such as zinc). Molecules move down a concentration gradient from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration with the help of transport proteins.
  • Active transport: This process is responsible for the absorption of iron, sodium, potassium, and some other products of digestion. These molecules move against a concentration gradient from an area of low concentration to an area of high concentration with the help of carrier proteins.

The large intestine is responsible for removing water from undigested material left over from the small intestine. The large intestine absorbs salts and water from this material, producing a substance called feces. Feces contains undigested food fibers, dead cells shed from the lining of the intestines, and bacteria.

Describe the assimilation and metabolism of the breakdown products of digestion

Assimilation is the process by which the body uses nutrients to build new cells and tissues. The products of digestion are absorbed into the bloodstream and then transported to the liver, where they are used to rebuild tissues and generate energy.

Metabolism is the process by which energy from nutrients is used to build cells and tissues. Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are not stored in the body as they are broken down. Instead, they are converted into usable forms of energy or other molecules that may be used immediately or stored for later use.

Outline the process of egestion

The final stage of digestion is egestion or the process by which waste products move through the digestive tract and leave the body in feces. The waste products in feces come from undigested food, dead cells shed from intestinal walls, bacteria that live in the large intestine, and fluid secreted by glands in the intestinal wall into the lumen.

Egestion is the process by which the body gets rid of waste products. The liver, kidneys, and skin are responsible for eliminating wastes from the body.

The liver detoxifies harmful substances in the blood and produces bile, which is used to break down fats in the small intestine. The liver also converts ammonia (a toxic byproduct of protein breakdown) to urea (a less toxic byproduct). Urea is removed by the kidneys and excreted in the urine.

The skin eliminates low-molecular-weight substances through sweat. The lungs exhale carbon dioxide, which is a waste product of cellular respiration.

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