We all need food to help us grow, but how do we turn an apple, a sandwich or a cupcake into something useful to our bodies? We digest it. We break it down into pieces our body can use – pieces like sugar and fats for energy, and protein for muscles.
Digestion begins right when we eat food. Our teeth and our saliva (our spit!) break food down and allow us to swallow it. The food is then carried down a long pipe – called the “esophagus” – to the stomach.
Our stomachs grind and mash up our food into a mushy goop called “chime.” Once food is in this mushy form, our body is ready to pull out the nutrients (the healthy bits!). To do this, the food leaves the stomach and goes into a long tube called the small intestine.
It’s a journey of about 20 feet! And it’s all coiled up inside you. This is where most digestion takes place. Food continues to be broken down even more! The small intestine pulls out the nutrients, which are sent out to the rest of our bodies to help us grow!
Our bodies can’t use all of the food we eat. What’s left over is waste. After the leftovers leave the small intestine, they enter the large intestine. There, the watery part of the waste is removed and only the solid, or hard parts, remain. Since our bodies can’t use them, we have to get rid of them. After the large intestine, there’s nowhere else to go but out! This is when you head to the bathroom!
The whole process can take between one and three days. Your apple, your sandwich, or your cupcake has become something you flush away in the toilet! (Only after your body has taken out all of the nutrients it will use as fuel to move and grow.)
ExplorationYou Are What You Eat
Eating healthy is very important because, as you read up top, everything our body doesn’t get rid of gets used to help build our bodies.
When a carpenter builds a house, he or she wants to use the best materials so the house is strong and doesn’t fall down. Try to use the best materials when building your own body. Try not to eat too many fatty or sugary foods, like cupcakes. These are tasty but they won’t make you as strong as healthier foods. You probably know that fruits and vegetables are healthy foods, but there are many others. Ask a grown-up to help you find the best foods to help you grow. There are plenty of exciting recipes you and your grown-up can make together!