Our digestive system does a lot more than just break down food for us. It actually has a role in our immunity. In this episode, Patrick explores how immune system checkpoints within the digestive tract protect us from pathogens.
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There’s a long and winding canal that goes from our mouths to our anuses called the alimentary canal or sometimes the gastrointestinal tract. This tube starts and ends outside of your body, and it’s how you process and extract nutrients and materials from the food you eat. But it’s also a spot for potential pathogens to sneak in.
Our digestive system interfaces with all kinds of nasty germs, and as a result, it’s armed with multiple immune system resources to protect our insides from the outside.
Digestion itself is a long process and involves everything from mechanically grinding down food in our mouths to treating food with enzymes so that we can absorb the nutrients better. Therefore, there isn’t just one immune system checkpoint — there are safeguards along the entire system.
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Introduction to the Digestive System
“The digestive system includes the digestive tract and its accessory organs, which process food into molecules that can be absorbed and utilized by the cells of the body. Food is broken down, bit by bit, until the molecules are small enough to be absorbed and the waste products are eliminated.”
Physiology – Digestion
“Digestion is the process of mechanically and enzymatically breaking down food into substances for absorption into the bloodstream. The food contains three macronutrients that require digestion before they can be absorbed: fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Through the process of digestion, these macronutrients are broken down into molecules that can traverse the intestinal epithelium and enter the bloodstream for use in the body.”
Immunity in the Gut
“The large intestine (colon) has a large resident population of microbiota, consisting of at least 1012 organisms per gram of luminal contents. These organisms, together with the antigenic load provided by the diet and the constant threat of potential pathogens, means the intestinal immune system encounters more antigen than any other part of the body.”
This Seeker health series will dive deep into the cellular structures, human systems, and overall anatomy that work together to keep our bodies going. Using the visual structure and quick pacing of Seeker’s Sick series, these human bio-focused episodes will give a new audience an inside look on what’s happening inside all of us.
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