This is you.
A piece of warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie, fresh out of the oven. Golden and slightly crispy on the outside, and slightly chewy on the inside; you are just simply scrumdiddlyumptious, as Ned Flanders from The Simpsons might say.
You look around you and see all of your fellow brothers and sisters. But something is a little off; everyone is staring directly at you with their mouths gaping wide open.
All of the sudden, before you could ask anyone anything, you notice that everyone around you seems to be shrinking. You look to the left and notice that something is grabbing you and pulling you towards darkness. You feel something sharp pierce into your skin as some type of liquid substance turns you into a paste. You start panicking; you want to scream but no one can hear you. You are all alone.
You feel something pulling you even deeper. Suddenly, you feel ripples and waves of contractions as you traveled down a long, steep passage way. You are very nervous. You wonder, “Will I ever see my brothers and sisters again?”
As you finally start to calm down and relax, you feel a vigorous pressure that forces you to fall into a sack full of acid that starts to break you down once again! But this time, you realize that you are not alone. Mr. Snickerdoodle and Mrs. Strawberry Bubblegum is there with you but they’re not looking so good. Mrs. Strawberry Bubblegum is trying to reassure you that everything is going to be fine. She explains that everything is going to twist and turn and be turned into paste, but you guys are going to get through this together! Soon after Mrs. Strawberry Bubblegum describes your unfortunate fate, everything, including you, start churning and you start mixing with Mr. Snickerdoodle and Mrs. Strawberry Bubblegum.
You, Mr. Snickerdoodle, and Mrs. Strawberry Bubblegum end up in a passageway again, but this time, the path seemed to take forever to get through. At first, the contractions seemed to break you guys into a liquid like consistency, but as you were forced to keep going, you realized that you were starting to feel weak and all your nutritional vitamins were being sucked out of you guys. You guys then enter another passageway, that seemed to be more spacious. You, Mr. Snickerdoodle, and Mrs. Strawberry Bubblegum are getting really thirsty. During the middle of the passageway, which already took three days, you guys realize that you guys are moving slower and slower and becoming drier and drier. You hear Mr. Snickerdoodle roar with frustration: “Constipation! How can this kid be constipated right now!”
After a few days of torture, you, Mr. Snickerdoodle, and Mrs. Strawberry Bubblegum is starting to pick up the pace and ends up in another halt. But this time, you feel pressure building up gradually. As you began to feel like you’re going to explode, you feel yourself being launched and plunged into a body of water. Mrs. Strawberry Bubblegum screamed, “We are free! We made it!” You start to feel the water spiraling into a circle. This time, you slowly lose conscious as you finally feel yourself relaxing. “Maybe this is the end,” you say as you sigh, “maybe this adventure is over.”
*A few years later*
You open your eyes.
This is you. A piece of warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie, fresh out of the oven. Golden and slightly crispy on the outside, and slightly chewy on the inside; you are just simply scrumdiddlyumptious, as Ned Flanders from Simpsons might say.
You look around you and see all of your fellow brothers and sisters. But something is a little off; everyone is staring at you, with their mouths gaping wide open. “Oh no,” you whisper, “not again!”
The mouth marks the beginning of the human’s digestive system. Your teeth, tongue, and saliva breaks down your food physically and chemically. The “liquid substance” mentioned earlier is the saliva that is produced by your salivary glands (parotid gland, sublingual gland, and submandibular gland). This process turns your food into a soft, wet substance called bolus, which is favorable for swallowing.
The bolus then travels down the esophagus, which connects your throat to your stomach. The muscles in the wall of the esophagus creates synchronized waves of contractions. The bolus is then released into the stomach, where it holds, mixes, and grinds the food. The stomach also secretes gastric juices, rich in acid and enzymes, that breaks down the bolus into the consistency of a thick liquid or paste called chyme.
The chyme is released into the small intestine, which would be more than 20 feet long when uncoiled. The pyloric valve releases small amounts of chyme into the first section of the small intestine called duodenum, where it is mainly responsible for breaking down the food even further. The chyme mixes with other digestive juices from the pancreas (releases enzymes that break down protein, fat, and carbohydrates as well as insulin and glucagon, which helps regulate the glucose level in the blood), liver (secretes bile that digest fats and purifies the blood coming from the small intestine), and gallbladder (that stores and forces bile into the small intestine). The chyme continues on to the jejunum and ileum (2nd and 3rd segments of the small intestine), where nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream. At the end of the ileum, a residue only consists of water, electrolytes, and waste products.
The residue then passes through the large intestine, also called the colon. The large intestine, which is about 5 to 6 foot long, is made up of the ascending colon, the transverse colon, the descending colon, and the sigmoid colon. The contractions that helps the residue (stool) through the large intestine is called peristalsis. As the stool travels through the ascending, transverse, and descending colon, the water is removed and the stool becomes a solid (the part where you, the cookie, got thirsty and dry). This is where one may experience constipation. If someone is dehydrated, and the large intestine absorbs the water from his or her stool, then they become too hard and difficult to pass.
Eventually, when the descending colon gets full of stool, it empties it into the rectum, where it holds the stool and sends a signal to the brain until it is emptied. If the contents can’t be emptied, the sphincters (muscles) contracts as the rectum accommodates so the sensation goes away temporarily. However, it the contents can be expelled, the sphincters relax and the rectum contracts. The stool is then expelled through the anus, which is the last part of the human’s digestive tract.
In the end of the story, you, the cookie, was “made” again because our waste can be screened, treated, (eaten by bacteria), and then recycled back into the earth.
Here is a video you can watch to find out what happens to the things that you flush down the toilet by AsapSCIENCE:
Staff, Mayo. “Slide show: See how your digestive system works.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 8 Mar. 2011. Web. 7 Nov. 2013. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/digestive-system/DG00021&slide=7>.
*All pictures are drawn by me.