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    15.3 Digestive System Processes – Concepts of Biology – 1st Canadian Edition


    Learning Objectives

    By the end of this section, you will be able to:

    Describe the process of digestion

    Detail the steps involved in digestion and absorption

    Define elimination

    Explain the role of both the small and large intestines in absorption

    Obtaining nutrition and energy from food is a multi-step process. For true animals, the first step is ingestion, the act of taking in food. This is followed by digestion, absorption, and elimination. In the following sections, each of these steps will be discussed in detail.


    The large molecules found in intact food cannot pass through the cell membranes. Food needs to be broken into smaller particles so that animals can harness the nutrients and organic molecules. The first step in this process is ingestion. Ingestion is the process of taking in food through the mouth. In vertebrates, the teeth, saliva, and tongue play important roles in mastication (preparing the food into bolus). While the food is being mechanically broken down, the enzymes in saliva begin to chemically process the food as well. The combined action of these processes modifies the food from large particles to a soft mass that can be swallowed and can travel the length of the esophagus.


    Digestion is the mechanical and chemical break down of food into small organic fragments. It is important to break down macromolecules into smaller fragments that are of suitable size for absorption across the digestive epithelium. Large, complex molecules of proteins, polysaccharides, and lipids must be reduced to simpler particles such as simple sugar before they can be absorbed by the digestive epithelial cells. Different organs play specific roles in the digestive process. The animal diet needs carbohydrates, protein, and fat, as well as vitamins and inorganic components for nutritional balance. How each of these components is digested is discussed in the following sections.


    The digestion of carbohydrates begins in the mouth. The salivary enzyme amylase begins the breakdown of food starches into maltose, a disaccharide. As the bolus of food travels through the esophagus to the stomach, no significant digestion of carbohydrates takes place. The esophagus produces no digestive enzymes but does produce mucous for lubrication. The acidic environment in the stomach stops the action of the amylase enzyme.

    The next step of carbohydrate digestion takes place in the duodenum. Recall that the chyme from the stomach enters the duodenum and mixes with the digestive secretion from the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder. Pancreatic juices also contain amylase, which continues the breakdown of starch and glycogen into maltose, a disaccharide. The disaccharides are broken down into monosaccharides by enzymes called maltases

    , sucrases, and lactases, which are also present in the brush border of the small intestinal wall. Maltase breaks down maltose into glucose. Other disaccharides, such as sucrose and lactose are broken down by sucrase and lactase, respectively. Sucrase breaks down sucrose (or “table sugar”) into glucose and fructose, and lactase breaks down lactose (or “milk sugar”) into glucose and galactose. The monosaccharides (glucose) thus produced are absorbed and then can be used in metabolic pathways to harness energy. The monosaccharides are transported across the intestinal epithelium into the bloodstream to be transported to the different cells in the body. The steps in carbohydrate digestion are summarized in Figure 15.16 and Table 15.5.

    Figure 15.16.  Digestion of carbohydrates is performed by several enzymes. Starch and glycogen are broken down into glucose by amylase and maltase. Sucrose (table sugar) and lactose (milk sugar) are broken down by sucrase and lactase, respectively.

    Table15.5 Digestion of Carbohydrates

    Enzyme Produced By Site of Action Substrate Acting On End Products

    Salivary amylase Salivary glands Mouth Polysaccharides (Starch) Disaccharides (maltose), oligosaccharides

    Pancreatic amylase Pancreas Small intestine Polysaccharides (starch) Disaccharides (maltose), monosaccharides

    Oligosaccharidases Lining of the intestine; brush border membrane Small intestine Disaccharides Monosaccharides (e.g., glucose, fructose, galactose)


    A large part of protein digestion takes place in the stomach. The enzyme pepsin plays an important role in the digestion of proteins by breaking down the intact protein to peptides, which are short chains of four to nine amino acids. In the duodenum, other enzymes— trypsin, elastase, and chymotrypsin—act on the peptides reducing them to smaller peptides. Trypsin elastase, carboxypeptidase, and chymotrypsin are produced by the pancreas and released into the duodenum where they act on the chyme. Further breakdown of peptides to single amino acids is aided by enzymes called peptidases (those that break down peptides). Specifically, carboxypeptidase, dipeptidase, and aminopeptidase play important roles in reducing the peptides to free amino acids. The amino acids are absorbed into the bloodstream through the small intestines. The steps in protein digestion are summarized in Figure 15.17 and Table 15.6.

    स्रोत : opentextbc.ca

    Carbohydrate Digestion: Absorption, Enzymes, Process, and More

    Carbohydrates give your body energy to do everyday tasks. We explain the process of carbohydrate digestion and how many carbs you should aim to eat daily.

    How Are Carbohydrates Digested?

    Medically reviewed by Katherine Marengo LDN, R.D., Nutrition — By Ashley Marcin — Updated on June 27, 2019

    What are carbohydrates?

    Carbohydrates give the body energy to go about your day’s mental and physical tasks. Digesting or metabolizing carbohydrates breaks foods down into sugars, which are also called saccharides. These molecules begin digesting in the mouth and continue through the body to be used for anything from normal cell functioning to cell growth and repair.

    You’ve probably heard that some carbohydrates are considered “good” while others are “bad.” But really, it’s not so simple.

    There are three main types of carbohydrates. Some carbohydrates are naturally occurring. You can find them in whole fruits and vegetables, while others are processed and refined, and either lacking in or stripped of their nutrients. Here’s the deal:

    Types of carbohydrates

    The three types of carbs are:

    starches or complex carbs

    sugars or simple carbs


    Both simple and complex carbohydrates break down into glucose (aka blood sugar). A simple carb is one that’s comprised of one or two sugar molecules, while a complex carb contains three or more sugar molecules.

    Fiber, on the other hand, is found in healthy carbs, but isn’t digested or broken down. It’s been shown

    Trusted Source Trusted Source

    to be good for heart health and weight management.

    Naturally occurring simple sugars are found in fruit and dairy. There are also processed and refined simple sugars that food companies may add to foods such as sodas, candy, and desserts.

    Good sources of complex carbohydrates include:

    whole grains legumes beans lentils peas potatoes

    Fiber is found in many healthy carbs such as:

    fruits vegetables whole grains beans legumes

    Consuming fibrous, complex and simple carbs from naturally occurring sources like fruit may protect you from disease and may even help you maintain your weight. These carbs include more vitamins and minerals.

    However, processed and refined carbohydrates are high in calories but relatively void of nutrition. They tend to make people gain weight and may even contribute to the development of obesity-related conditions, like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

    Daily intake

    Carbohydrates should make up 45 to 65 percent of your daily calorie intake according to American dietary guidelines.

    For a person eating a standard 2,000 calories a day, this means that carbohydrates might make up 900 to 1,300 of those calories. This figures out to around 225 to 325 grams each day. However, your carb intake will vary based on your individual needs.

    How are carbohydrates digested?

    All the food you eat goes through your digestive system so it can be broken down and used by the body. Carbohydrates take a journey starting with the intake at the mouth and ending with elimination from your colon. There’s a lot that happens between the point of entry and exit.

    1. The mouth

    You begin to digest carbohydrates the minute the food hits your mouth. The saliva secreted from your salivary glands moistens food as it’s chewed.

    Saliva releases an enzyme called amylase, which begins the breakdown process of the sugars in the carbohydrates you’re eating.

    2. The stomach

    From there, you swallow the food now that it’s chewed into smaller pieces. The carbohydrates travel through your esophagus to your stomach. At this stage, the food is referred to as chyme.

    Your stomach makes acid to kill bacteria in the chyme before it makes its next step in the digestion journey.

    3. The small intestine, pancreas, and liver

    The chyme then goes from the stomach into the first part of the small intestine, called the duodenum. This causes the pancreas to release pancreatic amylase. This enzyme breaks down the chyme into dextrin and maltose.

    From there, the wall of the small intestine begins to make lactase, sucrase, and maltase. These enzymes break down the sugars even further into monosaccharides or single sugars.

    These sugars are the ones that are finally absorbed into the small intestine. Once they’re absorbed, they’re processed even more by the liver and stored as glycogen. Other glucose is moved through the body by the bloodstream.

    The hormone insulin is released from the pancreas and allows the glucose to be used as energy.

    4. Colon

    Anything that’s left over after these digestive processes goes to the colon. It’s then broken down by intestinal bacteria. Fiber is contained in many carbohydrates and cannot be digested by the body. It reaches the colon and is then eliminated with your stools.

    Medical conditions that affect how carbohydrates are digested

    There are some medical conditions that may interrupt the process of digesting carbohydrates. The following list is not exhaustive and these conditions are usually rare and genetic, meaning they’re inherited at birth.


    Galactosemia is a genetic disorder that affects how the body processes the simple sugar galactose, a sugar that is part of a larger sugar called lactose that’s found in milk, cheese, and other dairy products. It leads to having too much of this sugar in the blood, causing complications like liver damage, learning disabilities, or reproductive issues.

    स्रोत : www.healthline.com

    Digestive Enzymes: Types and Function

    Learn about the different types of digestive enzymes, why they are important for digestion, and all about digestive enzyme supplements.


    Digestive Enzymes: Types and Function

    A Necessary Part of Digestion

    By Barbara Bolen, PhD Updated on September 06, 2022

    Medically reviewed by Jay N. Yepuri, MD, MS

    Table of Contents VIEW ALL What They Are Types Deficiencies Foods Supplements

    Digestive enzymes are substances that help you digest your food. They are secreted (released) by the salivary glands and cells lining the stomach, pancreas, and small intestine.1

    Digestive enzymes do this by splitting the large, complex molecules that make up proteins, carbohydrates, and fats into smaller ones. This allows the nutrients from these foods to be easily absorbed into your blood and carried through your body.

    There are several digestive enzymes, including amylase, maltase, lactase, lipase, sucrase, and proteases.

    Some conditions can result in digestive enzyme deficiencies, such as lactose intolerance or exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. In that case, supplementation with foods, over-the-counter supplements, or prescription digestive enzyme supplements may be necessary.

    Keep reading to learn about different types of digestive enzymes and how they work.


    Rost-9D / Getty Images

    What Are Digestive Enzymes?

    Digestive enzymes are released when we:

    Anticipate eating

    Smell and taste food

    Go through the digestive process

    Some foods require certain digestive enzymes to break down the specific nutrients they contain.

    A variety of health conditions, especially those that affect the pancreas, can lead to deficiencies in digestive enzymes. This is because the pancreas secretes several key enzymes.

    Often these deficiencies can be fixed by changing your diet. You can avoid certain foods or eat foods containing naturally occurring digestive enzymes. You can also take prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) enzyme supplements.

    Types of Digestive Enzymes

    Each of the many different digestive enzymes targets a specific nutrient and splits it up into a form that can eventually be absorbed.

    The most important digestive enzymes are:

    Amylase Maltase Lactase Lipase Proteases Sucrase


    Amylase is important for digesting carbohydrates. It breaks down starches into sugars.

    Amylase is secreted by both the salivary glands and the pancreas. The measurement of amylase levels in the blood is sometimes used as an aid in diagnosing various pancreas or other digestive tract diseases.

    High levels of amylase in the blood may mean you have:

    A blocked or injured duct of the pancreas

    Pancreatic cancer

    Acute pancreatitis, which is a sudden inflammation of the pancreas2

    Low levels of amylase may mean you have chronic pancreatitis (ongoing inflammation of the pancreas) or liver disease.


    The small intestine releases maltase, which is responsible for breaking down maltose (malt sugar) into glucose (simple sugar). The body uses glucose for energy.

    During digestion, starch is partially transformed into maltose by amylases. The maltase enzyme then changes maltose into glucose. This sugar is then either used immediately by the body or stored in the liver as glycogen for future use.


    Lactase (also called lactase-phlorizin hydrolase) is an enzyme that breaks down lactose, a sugar found in dairy products. It turns lactose into the simple sugars glucose and galactose.

    Lactase is produced by cells known as enterocytes that line the intestinal tract. Lactose that is not absorbed is fermented by bacteria in the gut. This can cause you to have gas and an upset stomach.3


    Lipase is responsible for the breakdown of fats into fatty acids and glycerol (simple sugar alcohol). It's produced in small amounts by your mouth and stomach, and in larger amounts by your pancreas.


    Also called peptidases, proteolytic enzymes, or proteinases, these digestive enzymes break down proteins into amino acids. They also play a role in numerous body processes, including:

    Cell division Blood clotting Immune function4

    Proteases are produced in the stomach and pancreas. The main ones are:

    Pepsin:Pepsin is secreted by the stomach to break down proteins into peptides, or smaller groupings of amino acids. Those amino acids are then either absorbed or broken down further in the small intestine.Trypsin:Trypsin forms when an enzyme secreted by the pancreas is activated by an enzyme in the small intestine. Trypsin then activates additional pancreatic enzymes, such as carboxypeptidase and chymotrypsin, to help break down peptides.Chymotrypsin: This enzyme breaks down peptides into free amino acids that can be absorbed by the intestinal wall.Carboxypeptidase A: Secreted by the pancreas, it splits peptides into individual amino acids.Carboxypeptidase B:Secreted by the pancreas, it breaks down basic amino acids.

    What Are Proteolytic Enzymes?


    Sucrase is secreted by the small intestine, where it breaks down sucrose (the sugar in table sugar) into fructose and glucose. These are simpler sugars that the body can absorb.

    स्रोत : www.verywellhealth.com

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