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Enzymes: 10. Summary of the human body's enzyme production sites and digestive system

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There are various sections to work through, after 1 they can be read and studied in any order.

Sub-index of biology notes on enzymes and digestion


10. Summary of the human body's enzyme production sites and digestive system

The digestive system is essentially a long tube running from the mouth to the anus.

It consists of a succession of organs working together to digest and absorb food molecules, water and mineral ions.

Each organ is adapted to perform a particular different function.

The digestion is completed in the small intestine and the soluble food passes through the intestine wall into the blood - this is the process is called absorption and enables the blood to carry the absorbed nutrients to all the cells of the body.

The enzymes our digestive system uses to break down food are produced by specialised cells in glands and the gut lining.

A variety of different enzymes are required to catalyse the breakdown to produce molecules that can be absorbed into the bloodstream.

The organs of the digestive system their adaptations and what they do - emphasis on enzymes

For other details see Part 9. Details of the digestive system

Salivary glands in mouth - these moisten food and produce saliva containing the enzyme amylase which catalyses the breakdown of carbohydrates like starch. The chewing action of the teeth mashes up the food and increases the surface area the enzymes can act on - chemistry - rates of reaction factor.

The oesophagus (Gullet) - connects the mouth with the stomach - has muscular walls that move food along by peristalsis.- wave-like movement of the tissue - a sort of squeeze and push effect when the muscle linings contract and then relax.

The stomach - mixes and mashes up food using strong muscular walls. It produces the protease enzyme, pepsin that breaks down proteins. It also produces hydrochloric acid to kill harmful microbes like bacteria  AND create the right pH ~2 for enzymes like protease to work function properly. Note the double function.

The liver - produces alkaline bile that neutralises stomach acid to modify the pH for other enzymes to act, bile emulsifies fats-lipids to help in their breakdown by enzymes and also stores carbohydrates as glycogen. The emulsification increases the surface area of the fat drops to increase the rate of the enzymic breakdown - rates of reaction factor - more chance of fruitful enzyme-substrate collision producing fatty acids and glycerol which diffuse into the lymphatic system.

The small bag of the gall bladder is where bile is stored before it is released into the small intestine.

Pancreas - glandular tissue that produces and releases enzymes into the small intestine - protease (breaks down proteins into amino acids), amylase (breaks down carbohydrates like starches) and lipase enzymes (breaks down lipid fats).

The small intestine (duodenum and ileum) - produces protease, amylase and lipase enzymes and is the site where the small digested food molecules are absorbed into the bloodstream. Note that large insoluble molecules cannot be absorbed into the body.

Specialised cells in the  large intestine absorb excess water and makes solid waste left over from digested food.

The anus and rectum is where most indigestible food ends up with the rest of the body's waste and stored as faeces, which we eject through our anus with the help of strong muscles!


Summary of learning objectives and key words or phrases

Know some of the most important sites in the human body's where enzymes are produced, particularly with reference to the digestive system.


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INDEX of biology notes on enzymes and digestion

(Enzymes are also dealt with in my GCSE chemistry notes chemistry - biotechnology)

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