Q:

What happens in the alimentary canal?

A:

Quick Answer

The alimentary canal, or digestive tract, is the pathway through the body that food and beverages take once they enter the mouth and go into the digestive system. The canal begins with the mouth and ends with the anus, and each organ has a different function.

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Full Answer

The alimentary canal is a large tract of tissues, cells and organ systems that comprise the entire digestive system. This system includes the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, both small and large intestines, rectum and anus. Food enters through the mouth and travels down the alimentary canal, being broken down and digested as it goes, until it reaches the anus and is excreted from the body.

During the process of digestion, the different organs involved in the alimentary canal perform different functions. The mouth breaks down the food into smaller subunits before it swallows the food and pushes it down the alimentary canal, through the pharynx and esophagus and into the stomach. Once the food reaches the stomach, it is broken down even more before it enters the small intestine, where nutrients are absorbed from the food. Next, the food enters the large intestine where water and electrolytes are removed and the food is compacted into waste products. Finally, the food reaches the rectum, where it is excreted.

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