What Does the Digestive System Do?

The digestive system helps the body break down food, so nutrients can be used for cell repair, growth and energy. The digestive system is also responsible for storing and excreting solid wastes.

The mouth, esophagus, stomach and intestines make up the GI tract. This tract works with the pancreas, liver and gallbladder to digest food. The process of digestion begins in the mouth, where the teeth and tongue break large food particles into smaller ones. Salivary enzymes start to break down starch before the food enters the esophagus.

The esophagus pushes food from the mouth to the stomach. When food enters the stomach, it is bathed in gastric acid. Once the food is mixed with gastric acid, it is called chyme.

When food reaches the small intestine, it is further broken down by digestive enzymes and bile before it enters the large intestine. The large intestine removes liquid and electrolytes from the food.