What Structures Make Up the GI Tract?


In order to break down and properly use the food you eat, your body has a very important system known as the gastrointestinal or GI tract. At GastroArkansas, we focus on the maintenance and wellness of this critical system of the body. Our goal is to help you better understand and maintain your gastrointestinal health, and our experts treat a wide variety of gastrointestinal diseases and conditions. If you’re in need of a gastroenterologist in Little Rock, AR, then our team can help you find digestive health physicians in your area. We invite you to read on to discover more about the gastrointestinal tract and how it helps to maintain your health.

What should I understand about the GI system?

Your gastrointestinal tract consists of a sequence of connected organs that carry and digest the food items you take in. As a result of chemical and mechanical digestion, these organs diminish food into its most simple parts so that your body is able to utilize the nutrients it relies on and get rid of the waste. The GI system is made of hollow organs, like the esophagus, stomach, small bowel, and large bowel, that store and move nutrients through the body. Additionally part of the gastrointestinal system are the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder. These components hold and produce digestive enzymes and fluids, among other functions.

What are the structures of the digestive system?

Multiple components in the intestinal system all work to carry out the critical function of digesting food. GI organs in the order of digestive function include:

  • Oral Cavity: The initial portion of the digestive tract, the mouth is where mechanical and chemical digestion starts. We mechanically break food down into smaller pieces by chewing, and our saliva begins the chemical aspect of the digestive function.

  • Esophagus: When food has been reduced into manageable pieces, it is delivered to the stomach by moving through the esophagus. The esophagus makes a series of muscular contractions as you swallow, moving food to the next portion of digestion.

  • Stomach: The stomach is a chamber found in the upper part of the abdomen, which is where food is collected and mixed with enzymes and acid that continue the chemical digestive function.

  • Pancreas: The pancreas produces enzymes that process proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, and generates insulin, which helps the body process sugar.

  • Gallbladder: The important digestive chemical known as bile is held in the gallbladder.

  • Liver: The liver performs several digestive functions, including the production of bile and the decomposition of toxins.

  • Small Intestine: The small bowel finishes breaking down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and the broken-down nutrients are taken up into the bloodstream.

  • Large Bowel/Appendix/Colon: In the large intestine, fluids are removed from the digested food and the remnants prepared to leave the body as stool.

  • Rectum: The rectum is a segment located at the end of the large intestine that holds stool until it can be emptied.

  • Anus: Positioned at the very end of the gastrointestinal system, the anus is composed of sphincter muscles that help in managing the elimination of bodily waste.

A practitioner who diagnoses, treats, and helps manage diseases of the digestive tract is known as a gastroenterologist or GI doctor. People can connect with a GI doctor in Little Rock, AR through GastroArkansas, a physician-led network of experienced gastroenterologists.

What factors make the GI tract so vital?

The organs that comprise your digestive tract work to help the body process and utilize important nutrients from the food you eat. This nourishment is then transformed to give you energy, aid in growth, and for cellular repair. Remnants of food left over following the digestion process are then eliminated from the body as waste. When you are affected by gastrointestinal conditions, your ability to break down food and get rid of stool properly may be impeded, which can impact your general health and wellness.

When should I visit a gastroenterologist in Little Rock, AR?

If you’re having worrisome symptoms with your digestive health, such as chronic heartburn, diarrhea or constipation, bloody stools, or abdominal distress, it may be time to meet with a gastroenterologist at GastroArkansas. Our experts in Little Rock, AR put the health of our patients first, incorporating state-of-the-art treatments and technologies to help protect GI health and wellness. Should you notice any symptoms, need a colon cancer screening, or desire to hear more about preserving your gastrointestinal health, please contact GastroArkansas to schedule an appointment.