THE DIGESTIVE MACHINE STARTS WORKING…
Digestion starts in the mouth. Carbohydrates in the foods you eat are first broken down into smaller particles by the saliva in your mouth.
For instance, the bread you ate at breakfast started to be broken down initially in your mouth. But it will take longer for the cheese you ate along with that bread to be broken down.
Nutriments broken down in the mouth pass through the oesophagus and reach the stomach. In the stomach is another marvellous state of equilibrium. Digestion of foods in the stomach is performed by a very strong fluid. This fluid is hydrochloric acid. As you know, acids are corrosive materials. They are capable of dissolving what they are in contact with. For instance, what your mother uses to clear an obstructed plug hole contains acid. Breaking down dirt and waste matters that blocked the pipe, these acids rid it of obstructions. It is thanks to the strong acid found in the stomach that the foods, which are in large pieces when they first arrive the stomach, are broken down into smaller particles that can be used by the body. Yet there is one more point that needs to be noted.
That is Allah, your Lord. There is no god but Him, the Creator of everything. So worship Him. He is responsible for everything. Eyesight cannot perceive Him but He perceives eyesight. He is the All-Penetrating, the All-Aware. (Surat al-An’am: 102-103)
We have mentioned that the food eaten is broken down into pieces by the stomach or gastric acid. So how is it that this acid does not destroy the stomach itself, which is also made of flesh? Now, think about it. The gastric acid digests the meat, for instance, you eat at dinner, yet ignores the stomach, which is in the same way a piece of meat. Why is this so? At this point, the excellence in the creation of our Lord is revealed once again. Allah, Who created everything perfectly, designed a protection so that the stomach itself is not digested.
This protection may be summarised as follows; another fluid, namely “mucous”, is secreted during digestion to prevent the hydrochloric acid from breaking down the stomach. A special mucous layer covers the inner lining of the stomach and protects the stomach from damage by this powerful acid. So the stomach does not digest itself.
The next place on the digestive route is the intestines. Nutriments are broken down into even smaller particles and are made usable by the body as they pass through the two intestines, the large and the small. What is useful in these nutriments is introduced into the bloodstream and the unnecessary residue is discharged from the body by the excretion system. The phases that the food eaten passes through in the intestines are also very important. Digestion continues in the intestines as in the stomach. Nutriments are broken into even smaller particles. They are now so small that they are absorbed by the blood vessels around the intestines and are involved in the bloodstream to be carried to every part of the body.
Children, you must have realised that the digestive system is planned completely and perfectly. During this journey, which starts at the mouth, proceeds along the oesophagus, the stomach and the intestines, the food eaten passes through several phases. And finally the nutriments that our body cells require are obtained. These are absorbed in the intestines and delivered to the body via the bloodstream. Digestion of food would be very hard if this mechanism did not work so perfectly. First of all, if we lacked teeth, we would not be able chew our food sufficiently and it would not go down the throat. Even if it did, it would seriously injure the oesophagus. If our stomach were not able to digest the food, everything we ate would remain as a large mass in the stomach, which would be quite disturbing. Besides, as a result of not being able to digest foods, our bodies would not be provided with the nourishment they require. An unnourished body loses its strength after a while and body cells start to die. But we do not experience such things, because our Lord created every single part of our bodies perfectly. This excellent system runs flawlessly, and we are quite unaware of it. This excellence in creation is related in the following verse:
He is Allah – the Creator, the Maker, the Giver of Form. To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. Everything in the heavens and earth glorifies Him. He is the Almighty, the All-Wise. (Surat al-Hashr: 24)
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