This week, let’s do something different. Instead of another awesome nutrition and wellness article, let’s test your knowledge about the digestive system with this quiz. Ready to begin? Let’s get started!
1: What organ begins the process of digestion?
D: None of the Above
D, None of the above. If you chose “A”, that was a good guess. But this is a bit of a trick question. The correct answer is actually your brain. That’s because merely inhaling the pleasant aroma of food or seeing it kickstarts the digestive process by activating the salivary glands.
2: Speaking of saliva, what is the name of the enzyme in saliva that breaks down carbohydrates?
3: What is the name given to the balled up collection of chewed-up food that enters the esophagus?
A, amylase. Saliva, which is the critical first step to food being transformed into nutrients, in addition to containing thin, watery components, contains solutes, which are enzymes. Saliva contains the solute, amylase. Amylase helps break down carbs while you’re chewing mouth-watering good food!
D, Bolus. Enzymes such as amylase break down food in the mouth. Before food enters the stomach for digestion, the ball of chewed up food known as bolus is formed in the mouth, then enters the esophagus, where before reaching the stomach, it passes a small valve called the cardiac sphincter, or esophageal sphincter. This sphincter is supposed to prevent bolus from travelling back up the esophagus (but fails to do so in the case of acid reflux).
4: What is the term for the as-of-yet digested food in the stomach, which is a combination of bolus and digestive juices?A: Thyme
D: Hydrochloric Acid
5: Actually, before entering the small intestine, chyme has to pass a C-shaped chamber. What is the name of this organ?
B, Chyme. If you answered “C” or “D” those are primary gastric juices, but it’s chyme that’s actually the term for the combo of bolus plus digestive juices, the latter of which are secreted from the stomach’s mucosal lining. From here, chyme then travels into the small intestines.
B: Ileocecal Valve
C: Pancreatic Duct
A, Duodenum. After bolus is broken down into chyme in the stomach, the foodstuff travels through a valve that allows entry of the chyme into the duodenum, which is the shortest part of the small intestine.
6: What are the three organs of the biliary tract, which produce bile and other substances that help break down food?
A: Heart, Lungs, Kidneys
B: Liver, Pancreas, Gallbladder
C: Brain, Stomach, Colon
D: Small Intestine, Large Intestine, Spleen
B, Liver, Pancreas and Gallbladder. These organs are not digestive organs per say like the mouth, stomach and intestines. That’s because food particles do not travel directly through these organs. But this trio plays critical roles in breaking down food. For instance, the liver produces fat-digesting bile, which is secreted by the gallbladder. In addition to bile, enzymes and the pH-regulating electrolyte known as bicarbonate are produced in the biliary tract.
7: What is the name of the enzyme in the pancreas that breaks down fats so that they can be better absorbed in the small intestines?
C, Lipase. When the chief role of the pancreas comes to mind, secreting insulin, the blood-sugar-controlling hormone gets all the attention. But lipase is critical for digestion. In the event dietary fat is not well-digested, the pancreas will compensate by making more lipase, which can lead to an inflamed pancreas (pancreatitis).
8: Which organ is responsible for approximately 90% of the digestion and absorption of food?
C: Small Intestine
D: Large Intestine
C, Small Intestine. It’s in the small intestine where vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals from food are absorbed. The stomach and large intestine take part in the remaining 10% of digestion.
9: What organ converts nutrients into B vitamins and vitamin K?
C: Small Intestine
D: Large Intestine
Answer:D, Large intestine. The large intestine, which would measure five feet in length uncoiled, acts as the body’s recycling system, transforming water and metabolic waste into nutrition for colonocytes (colon cells). Any unused nutrients get converted into some B vitamins and anti-clotting vitamin K.
10: What is the name of the short-chain fatty acid postbiotic that helps feed beneficial bacteria in the gut?
A, Butyric acid. When the good guys in your gut (probiotics, or beneficial bacteria) feed on fiber (prebiotic fiber), the probiotics will secrete (poop, for lack of a better word) short-chain fatty acids, which are believed to confer the many health benefits associated with having a healthy gut microbiome. Butyric acid is formed by indigestible carbs (fiber) becoming fermented in the colon. This short-chain fatty acid also help you go #2!
So how did you fare? As you can see, digestion is a complex and some would say, miraculous process. Don’t despair if you didn’t answer the majority of the questions correctly. The important thing to know about digestion is that eating a plant-based, low-starch diet is key to maintaining good health.