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Not Knowing This Causes Man To Choke On The Cset

May 13, 2008
Teacher candidates studying for the CSET need to know about the digestive system. The section of the CSET that you will likely see this type of question appear is Subtest II Science.

Science questions testing your knowledge of the digestive process are very common on all science exams and so the chances of such a question appearing on the CSET are high.

We will first outline the stages in the digestive process and then review the major body parts involved in digestion.

Stages in the Digestive Process

Movement: moves food through the digestive system
Secretion: release of digestive juices in response to a specific stimulus
Digestion: breakdown of food into molecular components small enough to cross the plasma membrane
Absorption: passage of the molecules into the body's interior and their passage throughout the body
Elimination: removal of undigested food and wastes

The human digestive system is a coiled, muscular tube extending from the mouth to the anus. Several specialized compartments occur along this length: mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and anus.

The Mouth

Mechanical breakdown begins in the mouth by chewing (teeth) and actions of the tongue. Chemical breakdown of starch by production of salivary amylase from the salivary glands. This mixture of food and saliva is then pushed into the pharynx and esophagus. The esophagus is a muscular tube whose muscular contractions (peristalsis) propel food to the stomach.

The Stomach

Epithelial cells line inner surface of the stomach, and secrete about 2 liters of gastric juices per day. Gastric juice contains hydrochloric acid, pepsinogen, and mucus; ingredients important in digestion. Secretions are controlled by nervous (smells, thoughts, and caffeine) and endocrine signals. The stomach secretes hydrochloric acid and pepsin. Hydrochloric acid (HCl) lowers pH of the stomach so pepsin is activated. Pepsin is an enzyme that controls the hydrolysis of proteins into peptides. The stomach also mechanically churns the food. Chyme, the mix of acid and food in the stomach, leaves the stomach and enters the small intestine

The Small Intestine

The small intestine is the major site for digestion and absorption of nutrients. The small intestine is up to 6 meters long and is 2-3 centimeters wide. The upper part, the duodenum, is the most active in digestion. Secretions from the liver and pancreas are used for digestion in the duodenum. Epithelial cells of the duodenum secrete a watery mucus. The pancreas secretes digestive enzymes and stomach acid-neutralizing bicarbonate. The liver produces bile, which is stored in the gall bladder before entering the bile duct into the duodenum.

The Large Intestine

Material in the large intestine is mostly indigestible residue and liquid. Movements are due to involuntary contractions that shuffle contents back and forth and propulsive contractions that move material through the large intestine.

Secretions in the large intestine are an alkaline mucus that protects epithelial tissues and neutralizes acids produced by bacterial metabolism. Water, salts, and vitamins are absorbed, the remaining contents in the lumen form feces (mostly cellulose, bacteria, bilirubin). Bacteria in the large intestine, such as E. coli, produce vitamins (including vitamin K) that are absorbed.
About the Author
Mark Buckingway is a CSET expert who writes for Ace the CSET.com because everyone, (even Tiger Woods) needs a coach.
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