Understanding the Anatomy of the Digestive System

Digestive System

To help digest and properly utilize the food you consume, your body has a highly functional system known as the gastrointestinal or GI tract. At Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates, we concentrate on the maintenance and wellness of this vital body system. Our aim is to help you become more in tune with your digestive health, and our experts address a broad array of gastrointestinal conditions and diseases. If you’re in need of a GI specialist in New Orleans, LA, our team can connect you with digestive health experts in your area. We invite you to read on to discover more about the digestive system and how it functions.

What should I know about the gastrointestinal system?

Your digestive tract is made up of a sequence of connected organs that transport and break down the food items you eat. As a result of mechanical and chemical digestive factors, these bodily organs break down food into its most fundamental composition so your body is able to absorb the nutrients it relies on and get rid of the waste. The digestive system consists of hollow organs, like the esophagus, stomach, small bowel, and large bowel, that store and propel food through the body. Additionally grouped in the digestive system are the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder. These organs hold and generate digestive enzymes and juices, along with conducting other functions.

What structures comprise the gastrointestinal system?

The various portions of the digestive tract work collectively to conduct the critical function of digesting food. GI organs in the order of digestive function are:

  • Oral Cavity: The primary part of the digestive tract, the mouth is where chemical and mechanical digestion starts. We mechanically break food down into smaller bites by chewing, and the saliva begins the chemical part of the digestive process.

  • Esophagus: When food has been diminished into manageable bites, it is delivered to the stomach by passing through the esophagus. The esophagus performs muscular contractions as we swallow, advancing food to the next phase of digestion.

  • Stomach: The stomach is a cavity housed in the upper part of the abdomen. It is where food is stored and mixed with enzymes and acid that further the chemical digestive process.

  • Pancreas: The pancreas creates enzymes that process carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, and generates insulin, which helps you process sugar.

  • Gallbladder: The important digestive chemical referred to as bile is stored in the gallbladder.

  • Liver: The liver is responsible for many digestive functions, including bile creation and toxin reduction.

  • Small Bowel: The small intestine finishes breaking down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, and the broken-down nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream.

  • Large Intestine/Colon/Appendix: In the large bowel, water is taken from digested food and the remaining substances are prepared to exit the body as stool.

  • Rectum: The rectum is a chamber found at the end of the large intestine that stores stool until it can be evacuated.

  • Anus: Located at the very end of the gastrointestinal tract, the anus is composed of sphincter muscles that help in managing the evacuation of stool.

A doctor who detects, treats, and helps manage diseases of the intestinal system is referred to as a gastroenterologist or GI physician. You or a loved one can connect with a GI doctor in New Orleans, LA through Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates, a physician-led team of skilled specialists.

What factors make the gastrointestinal system so important?

The components that make up your gastrointestinal system function to help the body process and absorb important nourishment from the food you eat. These nutrients are then used to provide you with necessary energy, aid in growth and development, and repair cells throughout the body. The processed food left over after digestion is then eliminated from the body as waste. Should you be impacted by digestive conditions, your ability to digest food and get rid of waste properly may be impeded, which can greatly influence your general health and wellness.

When should you visit a gastrointestinal doctor in New Orleans, LA?

Should you notice worrisome symptoms related to your GI health, like chronic heartburn, diarrhea or constipation, blood in your stool, or abdominal discomfort, visiting a gastroenterologist at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates may be in order. Our physicians in New Orleans, LA strive to place the needs of our patients first, incorporating advanced treatments and technologies to help preserve gastrointestinal health and wellness. If you experience GI symptoms, need a colorectal cancer screening, or wish to find out more on how to preserve your intestinal health, contact Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates to set up a consultation visit.