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Anatomy of the Intestines, Pancreas, Gallbladder & Anus

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  • 0:32 Digestive System
  • 0:42 Small Intestine
  • 2:27 Pancreas & Gallbladder
  • 3:47 Large Intestine
  • 5:17 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Most of the food nutrients you eat are processed and absorbed in the small intestine. This couldn't happen if it weren't for the help of digestive juices from the pancreas and gallbladder. Any wastes exit through the large intestine and anus.

Digestive Tract

When you walk into your kitchen to find a snack, your mind is thinking about what will taste the best, but your body is thinking about nutrients it can take out of that snack. Your body loves nutrients, like vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, fats and water. In fact, it has an entire system set up to break down the foods you eat and extract their nutrients. This system that processes the foods you eat is called your digestive system, and it contains the digestive tract, which is the continuous tube that food passes through. In this lesson, we will talk about the parts of this tract that are found between the stomach and the endpoint, known as the anus.

Small Intestine

When you take a bite of food, it gets chewed up, mixed with saliva, swallowed, and then pushed down the esophagus to your stomach. Depending on what you ate, food can stay in your stomach for hours, getting tossed and mixed around with stomach juices like it's inside a washing machine. The brutal pummeling food is subjected to inside your stomach is needed to turn solid foods into a liquid.

This allows it to flow into the next part of your digestive tract called the small intestine. The small intestine is the part of the digestive tract where most of the nutrients are absorbed. If we take a close look at the lining of the small intestine, we can see why it is so good at absorption. The most noticeable thing we see is that the lining is not smooth, but rather it's wavy. This increases the surface area, so nutrients have more places to come in contact with the lining. We also see that it is covered in villi, which are tiny finger-like extensions of the small intestine lining. They provide even more surface area to catch nutrients.

Your small intestine is all scrunched up inside your abdomen, like a coiled up garden hose; and it's just as long as a hose, measuring about 20 feet in length. The small intestine has three parts: the duodenum, the jejunum and the ileum. I call them the 'um brothers' because they all end in 'um'. The duodenum could be said to 'do' the most because this is the section where most of the chemical breakdown of your food takes place

Pancreas & Gallbladder

It might sound funny to think that there are chemicals inside of your body that are used to break down food, but this is exactly what happens. These chemicals are sometimes referred to as juices, and they are stored in certain organs that are associated with digestion, like your pancreas. Your pancreas is an organ that produces digestive juices needed for the breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. The pancreas is a triangle-shaped organ that's found tucked up behind your stomach. It sends its digestive juices directly into the duodenum through a duct and kind of sprays the food with chemicals that break apart the nutrients, so they are small enough to be absorbed.

Another organ that feeds digestive juices into the duodenum is the gallbladder. Your gallbladder is a small sac-like organ that stores and secretes bile needed for the breakdown of fats. Bile is a yellowish-green fluid that breaks big fat blobs into small fat blobs that are easier to digest, so I like to think of bile as a blob buster. Your gallbladder sits up under your liver, and even though it helps with fat digestion, you could actually live without it. That's because your liver also secretes bile. In fact, that's where bile is made.

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