How the Digestive System Works

Comfort Foods Image Gallery What happens to this ham and cheese sandwich after you swallow it? See more comfort food pictures.
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There are very few things in this world that you can honestly say you can't live without. Your digestive system is definitely one of those things. Simply put, this system is in charge of absorbing and transporting all the nutrients your body needs in order to thrive -- and it gets rid of all the waste the body doesn't need. As you read this article, your digestive system is chugging along, all its parts working together as a team (well, at least we hope it is).

This digestive team is composed of a bunch of hollow passageways that start at your mouth and end at your anus. These organs are aided by a couple of friends, the liver and the pancreas, with a few cameos from the brain and nerves.


Everything you eat takes a long journey through your body -- if stretched out, the system would measure about 30 feet, most of it the winding intestines [source: Kids Health: Digestive System]. And the entire ride is usually over in a matter of hours. Of course, there can be bumps in the digestive road, but we'll get to those later.

So how exactly do all of these organs work together? Let's begin by following the topsy-turvy journey of a ham and cheese sandwich.