The previous sections provided a general understanding of the path that food travels from the time of consumption to the time of defecation. However, there are several other components of the digestive system that play vital roles in this process. This includes the liver, the gallbladder, the pancreas and several crucial separators along the way.
The liver is responsible for the production of bile; bile is crucial for adequate breakdown of fat. In addition to bile production, the liver is active in filtering and removing toxins which can result from the digestive process. As a result, the functioning of the liver directly influences the effectiveness of the overall digestive process. Without proper help from the liver, our systems would become overwhelmed with toxins and depleted of essential fatty acids required for healthy cells.
The gallbladder stores the bile created by the liver. It is responsible for releasing this bile into the small intestine. Thus, healthy gallbladder function is a required component of proper breakdown of fats.
Some professionals believe that too much fat in a person’s diet can contribute to the formation of gallstones that can cause severe abdominal pain and blockage of the bile duct.
The pancreas is responsible for the production of the digestive enzymes required to process carbohydrates, fats and protein. Without these enzymes, we would not be able to properly assimilate the nutrients obtained from the food we consume. Accordingly, it becomes another essential component of the digestive process.
In addition to this vital function, the pancreas is also responsible for regulating blood sugar through the production of insulin. The most commonly known health issue as a result of irregular insulin production is diabetes.
If you have been keeping up, you should now know that different steps in the digestive process vary greatly in their microbial makeups, acidity levels, and bacterial tolerance levels. For these reasons, it is crucial that the contents of one organ are kept separate from the other until they are ready.
The first of these is the pyloric sphincter, and it separates the stomach from the small intestine. Failure of the pyloric sphincter to do its duties will result in a series of symptoms. This includes frequent vomiting, constant hunger, weight loss, and dehydration.
The next important separator is the ileocecal valve, and it is located between the small intestine and the large intestine. Issues in the functioning of this valve contribute to small intestine bacterial overgrowth. The symptoms of its dysfunction are fairly difficult to detect, but may include things such as: inability of finishing normal sized meal, feeling excessively full after meals, loss of appetite and bloating.
This section introduced some of the other helper organs involved in the digestive process and reviewed their main functions. Key points include:
- The liver is responsible for the production of bile, which is used to breakdown fats and for the removal of toxins
- Bile produced by the liver is stored inside the gallbladder, which then releases it into the small intestine
- The pancreas produces many of the vital enzymes used throughout the digestive system and insulin which regulates blood sugar
- Various separators, located between digestive organs ensure the drastically different environments are kept isolated