The Digestive System (cont.)
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Accessory Digestive Organs
Among other functions, the pancreas is the chief factory for digestive enzymes that are secreted into the duodenum, the first segment of the small intestine. These enzymes break down protein, fats, and carbohydrates.
The liver has multiple functions, but two of its main functions within the digestive system are to make and secrete an important substance called bile and to process the blood coming from the small intestine containing the nutrients just absorbed. The liver purifies this blood of many impurities before traveling to the rest of the body.
The gallbladder is a storage sac for excess bile. Bile made in the liver travels to the small intestine via the bile ducts. If the intestine doesn't need it, the bile travels into the gallbladder where it awaits the signal from the intestines that food is present. Bile serves two main purposes. First, it helps absorb fats in the diet and secondly, it carries waste from the liver that cannot go through the kidneys.
WebMD Medical Reference
Last Editorial Review: 3/1/2010
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