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A Handbook of Health by Woods Hutchinson

And the small intestine greatly shortened


[Illustration:

WHERE SUN-POWER IS MADE INTO FOOD FOR US]

All living things, including ourselves, are simply bundles of sunlight, done up in the form of cabbages, cows, and kings; and so it is quite right to say that a healthy, happy child has a "sunny" disposition.

Plants and Animals Differ in their Way of Taking Food. As plants take in their sun-food and their air directly through their leaves, and their drink of salty water through their roots, they need no special opening for the purpose of eating and drinking, like a mouth; or place for storing food, like a stomach. They have mouths and stomachs all over them, in the form of tiny pores on their leaves, and hair-like tubes sticking out from their roots. They can eat with every inch of their growing surface.

But animals, that have to take their sun-food or nourishment at second-hand, in the form of solid pieces of seeds, fruits, or leaves of plants, and must take their drink in gulps, instead of soaking it up all over their surface, must have some sort of intake opening, or mouth, somewhere on the surface; and some sort of pouch, or stomach, inside the body, in which their food can be stored and digested, or melted down. By this means they also get rid of the necessity of staying rooted in one place, to suck up moisture and food from the soil. One of the chief and most striking differences between plants and animals is that animals have

mouths and stomachs, while plants have not.

THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM

How the Food Reaches the Stomach. Our body, then, has an opening, which we call the _mouth_, through which our food-fuel can be taken in. A straight delivery tube, called the _gullet_, or _esophagus_, runs down from the mouth to a bag, or pouch, called the _stomach_, in which the food is stored until it can be used to give energy to the body, just as the gasoline is stored in the automobile tank until it can be burned.

The mouth opening is furnished with _lips_ to open and close it and assist in picking up our food and in sucking up our drink; and, as much of our food is in solid form, and as the stomach can take care only of fluid and pulpy materials, nature has provided a mill in the mouth in the form of two arches, of semicircles, of _teeth_, which grind against each other and crush the food into a pulp.

[Illustration: THE FOOD ROUTE IN THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM

In this diagram the entire alimentary canal is shown enlarged, and the small intestine greatly shortened, in order to show distinctly the course of the food in the process of digestion.]

In the bottom or floor of the mouth, there has grown up a movable bundle of muscles, called the _tongue_, which acts as a sort of waiter, handing the food about the mouth, pushing it between the teeth, licking it out of the pouches of the cheeks to bring it back into the teeth-mill again, and finally, after it has been reduced to a pulp, gathering it up into a little ball, or _bolus_, and shooting it back down the throat, through the gullet, into the stomach.

The Intestines. When the food has been sufficiently melted and partially digested in the stomach, it is pushed on into a long tube called the _intestine_, or _bowel_. During its passage through this part of the food tube, it is taken up into the veins, and carried to the heart. From here it is pumped all over the body to feed and nourish the millions of little cells of which the body is built. This bowel tube, or intestine, which, on account of its length, is arranged in coils, finally delivers the undigested remains of the food into a somewhat larger tube called the _large intestine_, in the lower and back part of the body, where its remaining moisture is sucked out of it, and its solid waste material passed out of the body through the _rectum_ in the form of the _feces_.


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