How Your Digestive System Works

All Aboard the Digestion Train

Learn how the human digestive system functions and how healthy and diverse gut flora play a part.

Humans, and most animals, have a tube-like digestive system. Food goes in our mouth and then travels along a twisting 30-foot-long chute. While the mechanics of this chute play a big role in breaking our food into nutrients, it's mostly the work of tiny microbes.

Gut flora is a growing area of study for scientists like Jeff Leach, profiled in our July/Aug issue. [See "The Wild World Within"]

We heavily rely on the trillions of living bacteria cells every step along the way. In fact, the human body is only about 25% human cells—most of our cells are bacterial.

To understand how digestion works, we thought it would help to see how it all comes together in the human digestive system.

—Gretel H. Schueller

Next: Location: Your Mouth »

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