How Does Food Travel From the Mouth to the Stomach?

Food doesn’t just magically appear in our stomachs – it has to travel there first! Learn all about the amazing journey food takes from the mouth to the stomach in this blog post.

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The process of digestion begins in the mouth with chewing and progresses through the stomach and intestines. Digestion is a complex process that involves many different organs and systems. Each of these organs and systems has a specific role to play in breaking down food so that it can be absorbed into the bloodstream.

The mouth

When you eat, your chewing breaks the food down into smaller pieces, which makes it easier to swallow. Muscles in your tongue and cheeks help move the food around your mouth and towards the back of your throat.

Your throat is a tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. It’s also called the pharynx. At the back of your throat, there’s a small flap of tissue called the epiglottis. This flap opens to let food enter your throat and closes to keep food and liquids out of your lungs.

Once the food enters your throat, it’s pushed down into your esophagus by a series of muscle contractions called peristalsis. The esophagus is a long, thin tube that runs from your throat to your stomach. At the bottom of the esophagus is a ring-like muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES relaxes to let food pass from your esophagus into your stomach and then squeezes shut again to keep food and stomach acids from flowing back up into the esophagus.

The esophagus

The esophagus is a muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach. It is about 10 inches long and is lined with a layer of mucous membrane. The esophagus contracts and relaxes in a wave-like motion to push food down to the stomach. This process is called peristalsis.

The stomach

Food enters the stomach through the esophagus. The esophagus is a muscular tube that propels food by peristalsis towards the stomach. When the food reaches the stomach, it is further digested by gastric juice secreted by the gastric glands in the walls of the stomach. Gastric juice contains hydrochloric acid and pepsinogen. Hydrochloric acid activates pepsinogen to form pepsin, which digests proteins.

The intestines

The intestines are a long, continuous tube of muscle that extends from the stomach to the anus. There are two main types of intestines: small intestine and the large intestine.

The small intestine is where most of the digestion and absorption of food takes place. It is about 20 feet (6 meters) long and divided into three parts: the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum. The duodenum is the shortest section of the small intestine and is where most chemical digestion occurs. The jejunum and ileum are about equal in length and are responsible for most of the absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream.

The large intestine is about 5 feet (1.5 meters) long and includes the appendix, cecum, colon, and rectum. The appendix is a small sac-like structure that protrudes from the cecum (the first section of the large intestine). The colon absorbs water and electrolytes from digested food and stores wastes prior to elimination. The rectum stores wastes until they are ready to be eliminated through the anus.

The rectum

After food leaves the stomach, it enters the small intestine. The small intestine is about 20 feet long and is divided into three sections: the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum. The rectum is the last stop before exit.

The ileocecal valve is a one-way valve that prevents food and bacteria from going back up into the ileum. When it’s time to have a bowel movement, muscles in the rectum contract and push feces towards the anus. The anal sphincter is a muscle that relaxes to allow feces to pass through it and out of the body.

The anus

The anus is the opening of the large intestine, and it is through this opening that solid wastes are eliminated from the body. The rectum is the section of the large intestine closest to the anus. When a person has a bowel movement, muscle contractions push feces (waste matter) through the rectum and out of the anus.

The digestive process

After you eat, it takes about six to eight hours for food to pass through your stomach and small intestine. Most of the digestion and absorption of food takes place in your small intestine.

Your small intestine is a long, coiled tube that’s about 20 feet long and 1.5 inches in diameter. It’s divided into three sections: the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum. The process of digestion starts in your mouth with chewing and ends in your large intestine with the absorption of water.

Food enters your mouth and starts the digestive process with chewing and salivation. Chewing increases the surface area of food, which helps to break down carbohydrates like starch into smaller pieces so they can be more easily digested. The action of chewing also mixes food with saliva, which contains enzymes that begin to break down carbohydrates into simple sugars like glucose.

Swallowing propels food from your mouth into your esophagus (food pipe). The esophagus is a muscular tube that uses coordinated muscle contractions (peristalsis) to push food towards the stomach. At the lower end of the esophagus, there is a ring-like muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES relaxes to allow food to enter the stomach and then contracts to prevent food and acidic stomach contents from flowing back up into the esophagus (a process called “reflux”).

Common problems

Common problems that can occur during the digestive process include:
-Heartburn: A burning sensation in the chest that is caused by stomach acid rising up into the esophagus.
-Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): A chronic condition in which stomach acid rises up into the esophagus.
-Ulcers: A sore or open wound on the lining of the stomach or duodenum.
-Hiatal hernia: A condition in which part of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm and into the chest cavity.
-Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): A disorder characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in bowel habits.
-Crohn’s disease: A chronic inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract.


The digestive system is a long, continuous tube that starts at the mouth and ends at the anus. Along the way, there are several organs that help to break down food and absorb nutrients. These include the teeth, tongue, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and rectum.

The digestive process begins when you start chewing food. This breaks down the food into smaller pieces that are more easily digested. The saliva in your mouth also contains enzymes that begin to break down carbohydrates in the food. As you swallow, the food moves down your esophagus and into your stomach.

Once in the stomach, strong digestive juices break down most of the proteins and fats in the food. The stomach muscles also mix everything up to form a liquid called chyme. From there, small amounts of chyme are released into the small intestine where most of the absorption of nutrients takes place. Finally, whatever is left moves into the large intestine where water is absorbed and wastes are eliminated.

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