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Know thyself: Organs in the digestive system continuation-The Mouth

Azimawellness foundational Talk 24/2019.

Know thyself: Organs in the digestive system continuation-The Mouth

We continue to unpack the series on digestive system. The alimentary canal is the name given to the organs that combine to constitute the digestive system. In the previous article, we focused on the mouth and teeth. Come with me we discuss other organs in the mouth.

A) The tongue

The tongue is a muscular organ in the mouth covered with a moist, pink tissue called mucosa. The size of our tongue is around 3.3 inches (8.5 centimetres) long for men and 3.1 inches (7.9 cm) for women. The tongue is located in the back of the mouth anchored by webs of tough tissue called lingual frenulum. They are anchored on the hyoid bone.

The tongue has three parts, the tip, the body and the base. The tip is highly mobile, anterior portion. The surface of the tongue contains taste buds that identify the taste of food. It has many nerves that help detect and transmit taste signals to the brain. All parts of the tongue can detect the four common tastes, namely: sweet, sour, bitter and salty. The mucosa keeps it moist. It also makes the tongue a bit slippery to touch.

The role of tongue in digestion

1. Eating and drinking

It enables us to turn the chewed solid food into a bolus that is easy to swallow. The tongue initiates the act of swallowing.

2. Sucking of fluids

The tongue enables the mouth suck in fluids from a cup or glass.

3. Chewing, grinding, pressing, salivating

When we chew, the tongue and the cheeks work together to constantly move the food between the teeth so that it can be ready for swallowing. The tongue presses the bolus into the throat to starts the process of swallowing.

4. Tasting

The tongue’s mucous membrane contains many taste receptors to test the things we eat and drink. Taste stimuli also trigger increased production of saliva and stomach acid to start digestion.

b) Salivary glands

The salivary glands produce between 0.5 and 1.5 litres of saliva every day. Saliva contains enzymes that start the processes of breaking down the food

One of them is alpha-amylase, an enzyme that breaks down starch into maltose and glucose. The mucous secretions contain a protein called mucin, which acts as a lubricant. Both alpha amylase and mucin are produced simultaneously.

Functions of saliva

Lubrication and binding

The mucus in saliva is extremely effective in binding masticated food into a slippery bolus that (usually) slides easily through the oesophagus without inflicting damage to the mucosa. Saliva also coats the oral cavity and oesophagus, and food basically never directly touches the epithelial cells of those tissues.

Solubilizes dry food

In order to taste food, the molecules in food must be solubilized. Saliva acts as a solvent in which solid particles can dissolve in and enter the taste buds through oral mucosa located on the tongue. These minor salivary glands secrete saliva

Initiates starch digestion

The serous acinar cells secrete an alpha-amylase which can begin to digest dietary starch into maltose. As a result, saliva allows digestion to occur before the food reaches the stomach where the process of breaking food to much smaller articles ready for assimilation takes place.

Keep it here for more next week we will be unpacking the mother of digestive system, the stomach to have a better understanding of how the human body get energy from food.

With Profound Respect,

Coach Maina Azimio. ICF- Accredited CPC & CPM
Conference Speaker and Corporate Trainer in Wellness.
Tell: 0704 561 095 / 0722 516 896
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.s; azimawellness.com/mainazimio.co.ke
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