How the Digestive System Works: Lesson for Kids

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.

Your digestive system mixes the things you eat and drink with digestive juices. This mixing releases the nutrients from the food and drink. Your body uses those nutrients to give you energy! Learn about your digestive system and how it works!

Your Digestive System

Have you ever held a big, juicy bone in front of a dog's nose? If you have, you probably noticed that the dog started to drool. Yuck! Believe it or not, that gooey drool that dripped from the dog's mouth meant the dog's digestive system was preparing for work. Dog drool is called saliva, which is the same as what's in your mouth. It contains enzymes that start to break down the foods you eat.

Your digestive tract is a long tube running from your mouth to your anus, where food and drink is mixed with things like enzymes and acids. This allows the nutrients in the food and drink to be released, so they can turn into energy. Your body uses that energy to play, think, and grow up.

Digestive Tract
Your Digestive Tract

Chew-Swallow-Burp!

When you take a bite of a sandwich, your teeth grind the sandwich into smaller pieces. These smaller bites are mixed with saliva, then swallowed. Swallowing happens when the wet glob of chomped up food gets pushed back into your throat by your tongue.

From the throat, the glob of food gets pushed down a tube, called the esophagus, which is mainly a one-way passageway down to your stomach. However, when you throw-up or burp, food or gas goes the wrong way. Did you ever burp after drinking soda? Soda is carbonated, which means it has gas mixed in it. When you swallow soda, your body releases the gas with a burp!

Your Stomach

Stomach
your stomach

Inside your stomach, the glob of sandwich gets tossed around like it's inside a washing machine. Stomach juices that contain enzymes and acids flood the food. The walls of the stomach tighten and then relax. This movement makes the watery mix inside the stomach move around, which is called churning.

After spending a few hours inside your stomach, your sandwich looks like a watery, mushy mess, but it still contains all of its nutrients. Nutrients are things like carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. In order for your body to use those nutrients, the mush has to be broken down more and then absorbed from your digestive tract, which happens in the next section, your small intestine.

Small Intestine

Inside your small intestine, the food gets mixed with more digestive juices. One of these juices, called bile, is made in your liver and stored in your gallbladder. It helps break down fats. Your pancreas makes other juices that help break down fats, carbohydrates and proteins.

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