Introduction: Anatomy & Physiology of the Digestive System

The digestive system transforms the food you eat and liquids you drink into nourishment for the cells, fueling their needs for your body’s functioning, growth and repair. It consists of “approximately 33 feet of plumbing that begins at your mouth and ends at your rectum.” (Yoga RX)

When healthy, the digestive system functions to break down and absorb nutritious food into the body… At the end of the day—indeed all day and night—the ultimate end of digestion is the maintenance of our tissues and fueling of the energy we require to live. – Mark Stephens


The main functions of the digestive system are:

  • Ingestion — food enters body and begins to be processed
  • Digestion — food is broken down into organic elements
  • Absorption & Assimilation — the organic elements are moved into the fluid that feeds the cells and nutrients are utilized (Gary Kraftsow)
  • Elimination — indigestible wastes are eliminated


The digestive system is made up of:

  • The gastrointestinal tract (also called the GI tract, digestive tract or alimentary canal): the hollow organs through which food passes
  • These solid organs: the liver, pancreas and gallbladder (NIDDK)

GI Tract

The GI Tract consists of

  1. Mouth
  2. Esophagus
  3. Stomach
  4. Small Intestine
  5. Large Intestine
  6. Anus

More Organs

The solid organs of the digestive system are:

  1. Liver
  2. Pancreas
  3. Gallbladder