Nutrition and the Digestive System


02 Apr 2018

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Problem 3.

  1. Define nutrition and state its importance

Nutrition is the source of minerals and vitamins found in food that is needed by organisms to ensure their healthy growth and survival. A variety of nutrients are needed to ensure that the components of the body i.e., its cells, tissues and organs are healthy. If the body is without the sufficient supply of nutrients it will be unable to carry out any of its metabolic, physical, mental of chemical functions. The best way in which to receive these nutrients is through food.

  1. Identify the types of nutrients and state the nutritional requirements for each age group


  • Water

This is the most significant nutrient as the body is made up of around 50%-55% water. It is used by the body all day and it controls the temperature of the body to releasing heat. Water is the medium by which nutrients are carried to body’s cells as well. The daily requirement of water varies from person to person as you have to take into consideration heir level of physical activity. For example, a person who sits at a desk all day will not need as much water as construction worker who works in the sun all day.

  • Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body as it powers the brain, muscles, organs and heart. If a person eats approximately 2,000 calories a day, then that person should eat about 250 grams of carbohydrates per day.,,20432882_3,00.html

  • Protein

Protein is the building blocks for the tissuies of the body as they give it its structure and also carry other essential elements to the blood’s cells. Protein requirements are difficult to gage because the quantity varies with age. According to WebMd:

Infants need approximately 10 grams per day.

Teenage boys need approximately 52 grams per day.

Teenage girls need approximately 46 grams per day.

Adult men need roughly 56 grams per day.

Adult women need roughly 46 grams per day.

  • Fats

Fats are like the storerooms for our body’s energy as its main purpose if the manufacture of energy. The extra nutrients in our body can be stored as fat. Saturated fats (animal fats) and unsaturated fats (vegetable fats) are the two main kinds of fat. According to the Daily Intake Guide, the reference value for fat for an average adult is about 70 grams while the reference value for saturated fat for an average adult is 24 grams.


Vitamins are needed for the proper functioning of the body. Many of the vitamins necessary for our health cannot be made by our bodies. We must thus ensure that we obtain them from a proper diet.


Minerals, which can be found in one’s diet, are compounds that join together in a variety of ways to create the structures of the human body.

  1. Identify the organs of the digestive system
  • Mouth

This is the start of the digestive tract. The process of chewing takes place here to ensure that the food is broken into tiny pieces for easy digestion. Saliva, created from the salivary glands in the mouth, combine with the food to start the process of digestion.

  • Throat

This is also known as the pharynx and it is from that food moves to the esophagus.

  • Esophagus

This is a tube made of muscle that spreads from the pharynx to the stomach. In the action of peristalsis, which is a series of contractions, the esophagus transports the chewed up food to the stomach. Before the food reached the stomach, is passes through a valve known as the lower esophageal sphincter which is a region of high pressure. This valve prevents food from going back up into the esophagus.

  • Stomach

This is an organ that is very sac-like with durable muscular walls. Its houses the food and grinds and mixes it. The stomach releases acid and enzymes that are needed for breaking down the food. When this food leaves the stomach it is no longer is tiny chunks but it now takes on a liquid or paste consistency. This liquid of paste then travels to the small intestine.

  • Small Intestine

The small intestine has three parts: the duodenum, jejunum and ileum. It is a tube long in length that lightly coils in the abdomen. The breakdown of food is continued in here by the use of enzymes that are secreted from the pancreas and the bile secreted from the liver. Bile is used to digest fat and get rid of waste products found in the blood. The action of peristalsis also occurs here to ensure that the food is mixed well with the different digestive secretions. The function of the duodenum is to continue the breakdown of the food while the jejunum and ileum are in charge of absorbing the nutrients from the food into the bloodstream of the body.

  • Pancreas

The pancreas release enzymes into the small intestine to break down fat, protein and carbs from the food we ingest. It is large in size and found inferior and posterior to the stomach.

  • Liver

The main function of the liver in terms of digestion is to release bile which cleans and purifies the blood containing the absorbed nutrients that comes from the small intestine.

  • Gallbladder

The function of the gallbladder is for storage of bile and recycling of extra bile from the small intestines. Is quite small, pear-like in shape and found posterior to the liver.

  • Large intestine

This is a long and thick tube which functions to absorb water and break down the wastes to get small portions of nutrients using its symbiotic bacteria. Feces are the final result and it leaves the body though the anal canal.

  1. Explain how nutritional uptake in a healthy individual differs from an individual who has Crohn’s disease

The diet of a person who has Crohn’s disease is based on avoiding certain trigger foods that otherwise causes flare ups in the disease. Crohn’s disease hampers the absorption of nutrients; therefore it is essential that a high calorie and high protein-diet is adopted. A person suffering from the disease should have regular means in addition to two or three snacks a day to obtain sufficient nutrients. Vitamin and mineral supplements also are recommended to acquire the needed nutrients in the body. Some foods which should be avoided if you have Crohn’s disease are alcohol, dairy products and spicy foods. Some foods that are best for the disease are almond milk, eggs and oatmeal.

  1. Distinguish between a disease and a deficiency based on nutrition

A disease is an illness of the proper functioning in a human, plant or animal. It can show symptoms that affect a particular area and is not only as a result of a physical wound.

A deficiency disease is caused by the lack of a certain vitamin or mineral is the diet of an organism. Nutritional diseases are as a result of a deficiency in a person’s diet.

  1. Explain the role of the liver in the metabolism of nutrients

The role of the liver is in the breakdown and absorption of nutrients into the body. It gets the digestive products by glucose, fatty acids, glycerol and amino acids. The breakdown of carbs, protein and fat occur in the liver even though there are precise roles carried out by the fat depots and the muscle of the skeleton. The end products of the metabolism are stored in the liver which is used if needed later on. Liver cells, called hepatocytes, comprise of many enzymes necessary to accomplish important metabolic functions. If a nutrient is in abundance or whether the level are low in the body determine how the hepatocytes deal with the nutrients. The hepatocytes change their metabolic pathways to suit the scenario.

  1. What is the role of the Peyer’s Patches in the immune system

Peyer’s Patches serve to safeguard the mucous membranes of the small intestine from any type of infection. They are bundles of lymphatic tissue which are round in shape, comprising of unencapsulated lymphatic cells. The entire function of the lymphoid tissues is to release the T cells and B cells to the site of an infection so that the Peyer’s patches can come into action and protect the inside of the intestine. The Peyer’s patches also prevent bad side effects that can damage the inside of the small intestine by moderating the immune response.

  1. Explain the effects of the medications used on the GI tract.
  • Mesalazine

Mesalazine prevents inflammation in the bowel and works mainly in the gut as a bowel-specific aminosalicylate drug.

  • Paracetamol

Paracetamol relieves pain and provides palliative care for those with bowel discomfort in their gastrointestinal tract.

  • Azathioprine

Azathioprine treats prevents swelling in a bowel disease.

  • Prednisolone

Prednisolone is a steroid that stops the release of substances in the body that cause swelling.

  • Calcichew D3 Forte

Chewable tablets comprise of two ingredients, calcium carbonate, which increases calcium in the diet, and vitamin D3 which might be lacking due to Crohn’s disease.

  • Adendronic acid

Alendronic acid is combined with vitamin D3 to help the body absorb calcium that may be lacking due to Crohn’s disease.

  • Ranitidine

Ranitidine stop stomach acid production as they are histamine-2 blockers. Ranitidine reduces the amount of acid produced by the stomach.

  • Ensure Plus

It is a liquid nutritional product that replenishes the body with nutrient and minerals that may be lacking due to Crohn’s disease.

  • Phenytoin

Phenytoin is an anticonvulsant so it serves to prevent and treat seizures of the body.

  • Sodium valproate

Sodium valproate also known as valproic acid is rapidly absorbed in the GI tract to prevent seizures and epilepsy.


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