Digestive System, Part 1: Crash Course A&P #33


We all have our reasons for eating nachos
at 3 in the afternoon. I happen to have my own. And don’t ask — it’s
personal. But more generally, we all eat any kind of food to
accomplish two simple things: to obtain the energy we need to stay alive and to get the raw materials
required for building all of our tissues and stuff. That’s because, when it comes down to it, both you
and the food you eat contain those two same things: Both you and food are made of “stuff”
— by which I mean, matter, made of certain kinds of atoms — and both you and food have
energy stored in the bonds between those atoms. So all living things need to take in stuff and energy,
and convert it into slightly different stuff and energy. And you can get some of the things you need
pretty easily. Like, in order to get oxygen for respiration, to unleash the chemical energy
in your food, you just have to inhale. But you can’t just breathe in the stuff you need
to build DNA, or actin, or a phospholipid bilayer. So, how does your body really acquire “stuff”? That’s where the nachos come in. This cheesy, crunchy dish is made of all different
kinds of biological matter — like carbohydrates and fat and protein — and it contains a certain,
probably shocking, amount of calories, which is how we measure energy stored in the chemical
bonds in food. So if I take, like, a 100-calorie bite of
nachos — which probably with this much cheese wouldn’t even be a very big bite — I can
convert the chemical energy stored in those carbohydrates and proteins and fats to feed
my muscle and heart cells and maybe, like, walk a mile — an activity that happens to
use about 100 calories. But I can’t just swallow the nachos and watch the
lump of them travel straight to my heart or leg muscles. In order to actually use this food, I have
to convert the biological matter into something my body can work with on the cellular level,
which as you know, is pretty darn tiny. And, the work of converting the stuff in food, into the
stuff that’s in my body, is done by my digestive system. Human digestion occurs in six main steps — some of
which you are intimately familiar with. Others less so. But every step of the way, your body is working
to reduce all the different kinds of molecules in food into their tiniest and most basic
forms. The first step? Is, uh, probably everybody’s favorite. When it comes to what your digestive system ultimately
does, just think of it as a sort of disassembly line. You could have an order of nachos with The
Works — I’m talking beef and onions and sour cream and slices of jalapeño — and
your digestive system will deconstruct it, both mechanically and chemically, one step
at a time. It’s gotta do this because your cells work best
with materials that are in their most basic form. Your digestive system reduces food to that
level in two main ways: by physically smashing it to smithereens, and by bathing them, as
much as it can, in enzymes. Enzymes are proteins that living things use
as catalysts, to speed up chemical reactions. When used in digestion, enzymes break down
the large molecules in your food into the building blocks that your cells can actually
absorb. Those large molecules are called biological
molecules — also known as macromolecules — and everything that you eat, I hope, is
at least partially made of them. And there are four main kinds: you got the lipids, the
carbohydrates, the proteins, and the nucleic acids. Each possesses its own density of chemical
potential energy, or caloric value, like for example, 1 gram of carbohydrate contains about 4
calories, while a gram of fat contains about 9 calories. But many of these biological molecules are
polymers — or sequences of smaller molecules — and your cells aren’t really equipped
to take them up whole. What your body trafficks in are those polymers’
individual components — called monomers — and there are four main kinds of those, too: fatty
acids, sugars, amino acids, and nucleotides. The simple idea behind the whole digestive system
is to break down the polymers of macromolecules in your food, into the smaller monomers that
your cells can use to build their own polymers, while also getting the energy they need. And, what your body needs to build at any
given moment is always changing. Maybe you need new fat stores so you can have
energy to run a marathon, or new actin and myosin to build bigger muscles, or more DNA
so you can replace the skin cells you scraped off your knee when you fell, or more enzymes so you
can digest more food to get more building materials. To meet your body’s constant, and constantly shifting
demands, your digestive system requires a lot of organs that perform a lot of specific tasks to break down
and absorb the right nutrient at the right time. Now, I’m quite sure that you’re familiar
with the key players here — they’re the hollow organs that form the continuous tube
that is your alimentary canal, aka the gastrointestinal tract, which runs from your mouth to your
anus. It’s worth pointing out that these organs are
hollow, because you are basically hollow, too. Your digestive tract is really just one unbroken,
insulated tunnel of outside that just happens to run through your body, and is open at both
ends. You’re a donut. So the layer of stratified squamous and columnar
epithelial cells that line your tract is actually a barrier between the outside world and your
inside world — but it’s a barrier that allows for the selective movement of materials
between them. It’s these hollow organs that do the actual
moving, digesting, and absorbing of food, and they include your mouth, pharynx, esophagus,
stomach, and small and large intestines. In your mouth, in your esophagus, and at the
other end of things, at your anus, you have stratified squamous epithelial tissue, just
like your epidermis, to help resist the abrasive action of like, chewing, like corn chips, maybe. From your stomach on down, though, the inner
GI tract is lined with simple columnar epithelial cells, which secrete all sorts of stuff, and
which absorb and process various nutrients. Most of those columnar cells secrete mucus,
which lubricates everything, and protects your cells from being digested by your own
digestive enzymes. So, the innermost epithelial layer of the
tube is known as the mucosal layer, and it contains some connective tissue as well, which
supplies it with blood. Surrounding the mucosal layer is the submucosal
layer, made of loose areolar connective tissue, which helps provide the elasticity that the
tube needs when you eat a whole pizza in one sitting, and it contains more blood vessels. And outside that, you have the muscularis
externa layer, which as you might guess, is where you find the muscles responsible for
moving food through your tube. Beyond these layers, the GI tract gets tons
of support from the accessory digestive organs, like your teeth, and your tongue, your gallbladder,
salivary glands, liver, and pancreas. They’re kind of like a pit crew, and they
mostly help by secreting various enzymes that help take apart food as it comes down the
tube. Together, these two groups on the digestive
disassembly line work in six steps to destroy your food and release and recycle its nutrients. First, of course, you’ve got to introduce
the food to your digestive system. What you know as eating, or ingestion, is basically
just creating a bulk flow of nutrients from the outside world into your tissues. This is where the work of disassembly begins:
In your face-hole, which scientists call your mouth. Now, we’re going to get to the details of
what happens here another time, but remember that food disassembly is both mechanical and
chemical: So your teeth pulverize the bite of nacho or whatever, while your salivary glands
begin that food’s hours-long enzyme bath. But the food, at this point, is not nearly
“micro” enough to be of any use to your cells, so you have to move that mush further
down your tube. This stage is called propulsion, and its initial
mechanism is swallowing — which, as you know, is a voluntary action — but then it’s quickly turned
over to the involuntary process of peristalsis. In peristalsis, the smooth muscles of the
walls of your digestive organs take turns contracting and relaxing to squeeze food through
the lumen, or cavity, of your alimentary tract. Waves of peristalsis continue through the
esophagus, stomach, and intestines, and they’re so strong that even if you were hanging upside
down while eating your lunch and drinking your tea, the food would still soldier on, fighting
gravity, and eventually make it to its final destination. Don’t do that, though. There’s other reasons
why you shouldn’t be upside down. Anyway, all of this shipping and handling
mechanically breaks down the food even more, and even after it goes through the stomach
and its gastric acid, the mechanical work still continues once it reaches your small
intestine, as more smooth muscle segments push the food back and forth to keep crumbling
it up. The goal of all this pulverization is to increase the
surface area of that bite of food by breaking it down into increasingly tiny pieces, to prepare it to encounter
more enzymes in step four: chemical digestion. Really, the actual process of digestion only
occurs when the main action becomes more chemical than mechanical. And here, the accessory digestive organs — namely,
the liver, pancreas and gallbladder — secrete enzymes into the alimentary canal, where they
ambush the mush and break it down into its most basic chemical building blocks. Like I said before, our cells prefer to do
business in the really basic currency of monomers, like amino acids, fatty acids, and simple sugars.
And digestion allows for the absorption of those nutrients as they pass from the small intestine
into the blood, by both active and passive transport. Once those nutrients are absorbed by your
cells, you can finally use the energy inside of them or use them to build new tissues. The absorption of the nutrients is the
goal of the entire process. But, of course, it is not the end of it. Once your body has sucked out all the nutrients
it wants, indigestible substances like fiber are escorted out of your body. Yeah, I’m talking about pooping, or defecation. And that is the end of the digestive line
— unless you are a capybara, or one of the other animals who make sure that they get
the most out of their lunch, by giving the whole process another round and practicing
coprophagia, aka eating their own poop. Now, you should notice here that some of the
processes of digestion occur in just one place, and are the job of a single organ — like
hopefully you’re only ingesting through your mouth and eliminating from the large
intestine. But most of these six steps require cooperation
among multiple organs. For example, both mechanical and chemical
digestion start in the mouth, and continue through the stomach and small intestines.
And some chemical breakdown continues in the large intestine, thanks to our little bacterial
farm there. Over the next couple of weeks we’re going
to take you and your nachos on a stroll through your digestive system and see who’s doing
what, where, how, and why. But for now, I’ve got some nachos to finish,
so I gotta go. And eating those nachos, as you learned today,
will provide me with energy and raw materials, by first ingesting something nutritious, propelling
it through my alimentary canal where it will be mechanically broken down, and chemically
digested by enzymes until my cells can absorb their monomers and use them to make whatever
they need. And eventually, there will be pooping. Thanks to all of our Patreon patrons who help
make Crash Course possible through their monthly contributions. And if you like Crash Course
and want to help us keep making videos like this one, you can go to patreon.com/crashcourse.
Also, a big thank you to Peter Rapp, Sigmund Leirvåg, Mikael Modin, and Jeremy Bradley
for co-sponsoring this episode of Crash Course Anatomy and Physiology. This episode was filmed in the Doctor Cheryl
C. Kinney Crash Course Studio, it was written by Kathleen Yale, edited by Blake de Pastino,
and our consultant is Dr. Brandon Jackson. It was directed by Nicholas Jenkins, edited
by Nicole Sweeney; our sound designer is Michael Aranda, and the Graphics team is Thought Cafe.

100 Replies to “Digestive System, Part 1: Crash Course A&P #33”

  1. frustrating!!! A waste of time because this guy talks too dam fast and the video goes way too fast to learn efficiently

  2. Could you slow the videos down some how. Doesn't anyone make learning videos that are interesting and worthwhile?

  3. He’s officially the new Bill Nye. We watch him way more in my science courses than I ever did Bill Nye. Kinda thankful for that though. Although his videos are fast, I think they are easier to understand because he isn’t trying to be funny. I don’t get distracted or confused.

  4. I love your videos but does anyone know what she uses to edit her videos? If so can you please tell me thank you

  5. Anyone notice the random donut casually walking across the table as he intelligently informs us about the digestive tract? ROFL.

  6. Technically, chemical digestion begins in the mouth with the salivary amylase that breaks down starches.

  7. why do you eat nachos at 3 o'clock in the afternoon it seems like a pretty normal thing however why do you find it personal or is this some cheesy joke that goes along with the nachos. also by the way hello from 2019

  8. I WAS EATING NACHOS WHILE WATCHING THIS!!!! Such a weird coincidence wtf I'm starting to think the whole universe revolves around me

  9. Just Got a Notification for this .-.
    Me: Oh! A new video and its on what im learning about!! *Sees that it was made three years ago* AW CMON WHY NOTIFICATIONS
    Hank: You are a donut
    Me: *eating popcorn* so worth it
    Hank: *says somethings that i would never be able to pronouce or spell*
    Me: O-O

  10. Just figured it's important to note that the muscular layer of the GI is broken into an inner circular and outer longitudinal portion. This way, food can be "milked" down the GI by peristaltic movement.

  11. Awesome explanation sir……. please upload videos on biotechnology sir…… please……. please…. please…….. 🙇🙇🙇🙇🙇

  12. The only I reason I get super excited to watch crash course is because of the animation in the theme song

  13. I come from the future in 2019, and Iron man dies, and this would have been sadder if I had travelled back in time, also this channel is old

  14. Some bile came out of my rectum and burn my anus so I decided to rub tums on my anus and It didn’t help. The tums is a lie it just makes everything worse.

    Maybe I should of used equate.

  15. Wow! Didn’t you know that the digestive system is like a factory turning food into energy?!

  16. Haven’t you seen Dinotrux? Watch Season 1 episode 6 when Garby ate Revvit. When he ate Revvit, he was in Garby’s digestive system.

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