Understanding the Structures of the Gastrointestinal Tract

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Understanding the Structures of the Gastrointestinal Tract

Understanding the Structures of the Gastrointestinal Tract Hinsdale Gastroenterology Associates GI Alliance

Summary: The gastrointestinal (GI) tract conducts vital digestive functions, enabling your body to absorb nutrients from the food and get rid of the waste.


To help break down and properly use the food you consume, your body has an incredible system known as the digestive tract. At Hinsdale Gastroenterology Associates, we concentrate on the health and maintenance of this critical body system. Our goal is to help you become more aware of your digestive health, and our specialists treat a large number of digestive conditions and diseases. If you’re looking for a GI specialist in Hinsdale, IL, our office can put you in touch with digestive health experts in your community. We encourage you to keep reading to find out more about the gastrointestinal system and the role it plays in your health.

What should I know about the GI system?

The gastrointestinal system is comprised of a series of linked organs that transport and break down the food items you take in. By way of chemical and mechanical digestive factors, these parts of the body diminish food into its most simple composition so that your body is able to uptake the nutrients it needs and expel the leftover waste. The intestinal tract is composed of hollow organs, such as the esophagus, stomach, small bowel, and large bowel, that store and propel nutrients through your body. Also grouped in the GI system are the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder. These components hold and generate digestive fluids and enzymes, in conjunction with other responsibilities.

What structures comprise the digestive tract?

The different parts of the digestive tract all work together to carry out the essential process of digestion. The organs of the GI tract in order of function include:

Mouth: The initial entrance to the digestive tract, the oral cavity is where chemical and mechanical digestion starts. We mechanically diminish food into smaller bites by chewing, and the saliva initiates the chemical aspect of the digestive process.

Esophagus: After food has been reduced into manageable bites, it finds its way to the stomach by moving through the esophagus. The esophagus carries out muscular contractions as we swallow, moving food to the next stage of digestion.

Stomach: The stomach is a cavity located in the upper portion of the abdomen, which is where food is held and mixed with acid and enzymes that propagate the chemical digestive function.

Pancreas: The pancreas creates enzymes that break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, and creates insulin, which helps the body process sugar.

Gallbladder: The critical digestive chemical bile is kept in the gallbladder.

Liver: The liver performs several digestive functions, including making bile and reducing toxins.

Small Bowel: The small intestine completes the process of digesting fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, and the broken-down nutrients are taken up into the circulatory system.

Large Intestine/Colon/Appendix: In the large intestine, fluids are taken from processed food and the remaining substances are prepared to leave the body as stool.

Rectum: The rectum is an organ found at the end of the colon that holds stool until it is evacuated.

Anus: Located at the very end of the intestinal tract, the anus is made up of sphincter muscles that help in controlling the emptying of bodily waste.

A physician who diagnoses, treats, and helps manage conditions of the digestive tract is known as a gastroenterologist or GI specialist. You and your family can connect with a GI specialist in Hinsdale, IL through Hinsdale Gastroenterology Associates, a physician-led group of experienced gastroenterologists.

What factors make the digestive tract so essential?

The components in your intestinal tract function to help your body process and uptake vital nutrients from the food you eat. This nourishment is then used to give you necessary energy, aid in growth and development, and restore your cells. Remnants of food left over following the digestion process then leave the body as waste. Should you be afflicted by GI conditions, your ability to process food and eliminate waste may be hindered, which can affect your overall health and wellness.

When should I visit a GI doctor in Hinsdale, IL?

If you’re having symptoms related to your intestinal health, like lasting heartburn, constipation or diarrhea, bloody stools, or abdominal discomfort, we encourage you to meet with a GI specialist at Hinsdale Gastroenterology Associates. Our experts in Hinsdale, IL strive to place the health of our patients first, using innovative treatments and technologies to help protect your digestive wellness. If you notice any symptoms, require a colorectal cancer screening, or want to find out more about how to preserve your gastrointestinal health, please contact Hinsdale Gastroenterology Associates to schedule a consultation.

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