The gastrointestinal (GI) system refers to the organs responsible for the digestion and absorption of food, including the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus.
The primary functions of the GI system are to break down food into smaller, absorbable components and to transport these components into the bloodstream, where they can be used by the body for energy and growth.
The digestive process begins in the mouth, where food is mechanically broken down by chewing and mixed with saliva to begin the process of breaking down carbohydrates. From the mouth, food travels down the esophagus and into the stomach, where it is mixed with gastric juices to further break down food.
The partially digested food then enters the small intestine, where most of the nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream. The remaining waste is then passed into the large intestine, where water and electrolytes are absorbed and the remaining waste is eliminated from the body through the rectum and anus.
Disorders of the GI system can include conditions such as peptic ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis, and cancer. Symptoms of GI disorders can include abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding.
Treatment of GI disorders may include dietary changes, medication, and in some cases, surgery. Maintaining a healthy diet, staying hydrated, and engaging in regular physical activity can help support the health of the GI system.