Sucrose and Your Digestive System
The Human Digestive System
The human digestive system is responsible for the breakdown and absorption of foods and their conversion into usable energy. The digestive system is made up of the digestive tract, also called the gastrointestinal tract, which stretches from the mouth at one end to the anus on the other, along with the accessory organs, the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder, which help with digestion.
The small intestine is made up of various types of specialized cells responsible for nutrient digestion and absorption, including tiny cells that contain hairlike projections called microvilli on their surface. When these microvilli band together, they form a structure called the brush border. These microvilli assist in the digestion and absorption of nutrients. They secrete enzymes that aid in the breakdown of proteins and sugars, enabling consumed nutrients to be more easily absorbed by your body. When microvilli are present, the surface area of a cell greatly increases, enabling greater nutrient absorption from the cell surface.
Many factors contribute to the digestive process. For instance, the bacteria that line the gastrointestinal tract and help with digestion is called the gut flora or microbiome. Parts of the nervous and circulatory systems also assist in the digestive process. Thus, daily food digestion and waste processing is achieved by a combined effort of nerves, blood, hormones, and bacteria, along with the organs of the digestive system. The digestive system and its organs are shown in the figure below.