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The diagram to the left is of the alimentary canal also known as the digestive tract and also shows other organs of the digestive system like the liver.
After being swallowed, the food travels down the Oesophagus or esophagus, this is continually being damaged by the friction of food, so the epithelium is a few cells thick and secretes mucas to lubricate the food's passage. The next place it enters is the stomach this is a temporary store, mixes the contents up and also is the site for a bit of digestion. Enzymes are sensitive to temperature and pH, these must be at an optimum level so they work best.
Below is a digram of the human gut wall, on the right are labelled the different layers that exist.
The first actual layer is the mucosa, it has a layer of epithelium, made of epithelial cells, which have projections called villi.
Below this is a muscle layer, known scientifically as the muscularis externa, it is reponsible for peristalsis which moves food through the digestive tract. In the diagram you should also notice the capillaries, part of the blood network which takes absorbed food away. By the time everything reaches here, the food has been digested into small enough particles that it can pass through the alimentary tract lining and be absorbed into the blood.
The food products pass into the blood stream through villi: these are small foldings of the small intestine that cover on its internal surface.
The villi on their own increase the surface area, but the cells which make up the surface of the villus have their own small projections called microvilli (see diagram) these further increase the surface area which means that the digestion products can be absorbed more quickly.
The villus has a supply of blood vessels this means substances absorbed can be transported to where they are needed more directly.
Triglycerides are a type of lipid; here you will learn how the body breaks down this molecule.


Digestion begins in the duodenum where bile enters from the liver, bile salts make the big blobs of fat into small micelle droplets which massively increases the surface area and makes digestion much easier. Also in the duodenum, pancreatic lipase this breaks the triglyceride into fatty acid and glycerol. These resynthesised lipids make proteins called chylomicrons, these enter the lacteals and travel through the lymphatic system, making it milky. Minerals are the biomolecules (in milligrams or micrograms) which are required for the growth and development of cellular processes. Unlike carbon containing organic vitamins, minerals are inorganic in nature which exist permanently in living beings. Based on the quantity of mineral required by the human body daily, these minerals are classified into 2 groups.
Also, phosphorous is utilized for making nucleotides which are the building blocks of DNA and RNA. It is a known fact that DNA and RNA contain genetic information which allow organisms to function, grow and reproduce.
Potassium and Magnesium help in the functioning of muscles and nerves. Calcium aids in the contraction and relaxation of muscles. In the form of phospho-lipids (cell membranes), phosphorous helps to carry fat molecules in the body. Sodium and Potassium are the electrolyte ions which play an important role in maintaining the acid-base balance in the body.
Iron is used for carrying out redox reactions and electron transport processes during oxidative phosphorylation which take place inside the cells. Red blood cells (RBC) contain hemoglobin, an iron-centered oxygen transporting-metalloprotein.


In some eukaryotes, zinc is used along with copper as cofactors in the functioning of bismutase enzyme.
Copper is an important component for processing oxygen during aerobic respiration along with iron.
Also, minerals in the form of electrolytes, balance osmotic pressure between cellular and extracellular fluids. Sodium and Potassium in cells should be in optimum concentrations else blood pressure will be affected.
Strong bones fight against bone loss later in life and prevent osteoporosis – breakage of bones.
Human bodies regulate iron absorption and recycling of iron however some of the iron gets destroyed during cellular processes.
Iodine is an important component in forming thyroid hormones – thyroxin and tri-iodothyronine.
These enzymes convert superoxides to oxygen and hydrogen peroxide and they are considered as anti-oxidant defenses in cells exposed to oxygen. In cytochrome c oxidase enzyme complex, copper and iron play significant roles in reduction of oxygen molecules. In glycolysis, Magnesium acts as co-factor in conversion of glucose to it’s phosphate in the presence of Hexokinase enzyme.



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