How Digestion Works

Basics

Wellness and Prevention

Overview

The human body uses the process of digestion to break down food into a form that can be absorbed and used for fuel. The organs of the digestive system are the mouth, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, large intestine and anus. Recognizing how these organs work together to digest food is key to understanding how digestion works.    

The digestive process begins in the mouth. Even before eating begins, the anticipation of eating stimulates glands in the mouth to produce saliva. The digestive system carries out three primary processes: mixing food, moving food through the digestive tract (peristalsis) and using chemicals to break down food into smaller molecules.

Consult a health care provider about specific questions regarding how digestion works and any related digestive health problems.