Some Important Terminology in Digestive System

anus - the opening at the end of the digestive system from which feces (waste) exits the body.

appendix - a small sac located on the cecum.

Amylase is the name given to glycoside hydrolase enzymes that break down starch into maltose molecules.

ascending colon - the part of the large intestine that run upwards; it is located after the cecum.

bile - a digestive chemical that is produced in the liver, stored in the gall bladder, and secreted into the small intestine.

cecum - the first part of the large intestine; the appendix is connected to the cecum.

chyme - food in the stomach that is partly digested and mixed with stomach acids. Chyme goes on to the small intestine for further digestion.

descending colon - the part of the large intestine that run downwards after the transverse colon and before the sigmoid colon.

duodenum - the first part of the small intestine; it is C-shaped and runs from the stomach to the jejunum.

epiglottis - the flap at the back of the tongue that keeps chewed food from going down the windpipe to the lungs. When you swallow, the epiglottis automatically closes. When you breathe, the epiglottis opens so that air can go in and out of the windpipe.

esophagus - the long tube between the mouth and the stomach. It uses rhythmic muscle movements (called peristalsis) to force food from the throat into the stomach.

gall bladder - a small, sac-like organ located by the duodenum. It stores and releases bile (a digestive chemical which is produced in the liver) into the small intestine.

ileum - the last part of the small intestine before the large intestine begins.

jejunum - the long, coiled mid-section of the small intestine; it is between the duodenum and the ileum.

liver - a large organ located above and in front of the stomach. It filters toxins from the blood, and makes bile (which breaks down fats) and some blood proteins.

mouth - the first part of the digestive system, where food enters the body. Chewing and salivary enzymes in the mouth are the beginning of the digestive process (breaking down the food).

pancreas - an enzyme-producing gland located below the stomach and above the intestines. Enzymes from the pancreas help in the digestion of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in the small intestine.

peristalsis - rhythmic muscle movements that force food in the esophagus from the throat into the stomach. Peristalsis is involuntary - you cannot control it. It is also what allows you to eat and drink while upside-down.

rectum - the lower part of the large intestine, where feces are stored before they are excreted.

salivary glands - glands located in the mouth that produce saliva. Saliva contains enzymes that break down carbohydrates (starch) into smaller molecules.

sigmoid colon - the part of the large intestine between the descending colon and the rectum.

stomach - a sack-like, muscular organ that is attached to the esophagus. Both chemical and mechanical digestion takes place in the stomach. When food enters the stomach, it is churned in a bath of acids and enzymes.

transverse colon - the part of the large intestine that runs horizontally across the abdomen.

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