What Are the Structures of the Digestive System?


In order to digest and use the food you consume, your body has an incredible system known as the gastrointestinal or GI tract. At Texas Digestive Disease Consultants, we focus on the maintenance and wellness of this critical system of the body. Our objective is to help you become more in tune with your gastrointestinal health, and our physicians specialize in a broad array of GI diseases and conditions. If you’re seeking a GI specialist in DFW, then our practice can put you in touch with digestive health experts in your area. We welcome you to read on to find out more about the GI system and how it functions.

What is the gastrointestinal tract?

Your gastrointestinal tract consists of a number of connected organs that move and digest the food items you eat. By way of mechanical and chemical digestion, these organs break down food into its most simple parts so that your body can absorb the nutrients it requires and get rid of the waste. The intestinal tract is composed of hollow organs, like the esophagus, stomach, small bowel, and large bowel, that store and move nutrients through the body. Additionally grouped in the GI system are the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder. These organs store and produce digestive fluids and enzymes, among other functions.

What makes up the gastrointestinal system?

The various portions of the GI tract all work systematically to carry out the important job of digestion. The organs of the gastrointestinal system in order of function include:

  • Mouth: The first entrance to the digestive tract, the oral cavity is where mechanical and chemical digestion starts. We mechanically diminish food into smaller bites by chewing, and our saliva begins the chemical digestive processes.

  • Esophagus: After food has been reduced into smaller pieces, it makes its way to our stomach by moving through the esophagus. The esophagus performs muscular contractions when we swallow, advancing food to the next stage of digestion.

  • Stomach: The stomach is a compartment housed in the upper portion of the abdomen. It is where food is held and mixed with enzymes and acid that propagate the chemical digestive process.

  • Pancreas: Your pancreas produces enzymes that process fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, and creates insulin, which helps you process sugar.

  • Gallbladder: The critical digestive chemical called bile is stored in the organ known as the gallbladder.

  • Liver: The liver performs a variety of digestive processes, including the production of bile and the reduction of toxins.

  • Small Bowel: The small intestine finishes breaking down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, and the processed nutrients are absorbed into the blood.

  • Large Intestine/Colon/Appendix: In the large bowel, fluids are extracted from our processed food and what is left prepares to exit the body as stool.

  • Rectum: The rectum is a compartment located at the end of the colon that stores stool until it is ready to be evacuated.

  • Anus: Found at the very end of the gastrointestinal system, the anus is comprised of sphincter muscles that assist in managing the evacuation of stool.

A practitioner who diagnoses, treats, and helps manage diseases of the intestinal tract is referred to as a gastroenterologist or GI specialist. You or a loved one can find a GI doctor in DFW through Texas Digestive Disease Consultants, a physician-led network of expert gastroenterologists.

What factors make the GI system so vital?

The components that make up your digestive tract function to help you break down and use essential nutrients from the food you consume. These nutrients are then utilized to provide you with energy, facilitate growth, and maintain your cells. What is remaining after the digestion process is then disposed of as waste or stool. When you are impacted by digestive ailments, your ability to digest food and evacuate stool may be hindered, which can greatly influence your general health.

When should you visit a gastrointestinal doctor in DFW?

When you’re experiencing worrisome symptoms with your intestinal health, such as lasting heartburn, constipation or diarrhea, bloody stools, or abdominal discomfort, we encourage you to meet with a gastroenterologist at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants. Our team in DFW prioritizes the needs of patients, incorporating the latest in technologies and treatments to maintain intestinal health and wellness. Should you experience GI symptoms, need a colonoscopy, or wish to understand more about maintaining your gastrointestinal health, turn to Texas Digestive Disease Consultants for the personalized care you need.