Body Systems Involved in Eating a Snack
The first thing I do when eating a snack is to prepare it. In this case, I reach into the cabinet above me and grab a bag of potato chips. I read the label and make sure they are plain chips, because I do not like flavored chips. When I am satisfied they are the type of chip I like, I break open the seal of the bag. I immediately smell the chips when I open the seal. The smell is familiar: oily, salty, and potato-ey. Still standing, I reach one hand into the bag of chips. My fingers feel all the salt granules and the distinct shape of the thinly sliced crisps. The edges of the crisps are rough but not sharp. I put one chip into my mouth and begin to chew. The initial flavors are salty, and then that gives way to sweet starchy tastes. After I finish the first chip, I automatically reach into the bag for another. After just two chips, my hands feel oily and have salt grains on them. Each time I finish chewing a chip, I place another one into my mouth without thinking about it. Suddenly I reach the end of the bag. There are no more whole chips. My fingers probe for broken chips and crumbs, which I move to my mouth. I lick my lips and throw away the bag before leaving the kitchen.
There are several body systems involved in this scenario. First, my musculoskeletal system is engaged as I reach for the bag of chips. The mechanisms involved in opening the bag, and in putting hand to mouth are also dependent on muscles and bones. However, my brain is also involved. I actively told my body to reach for the chips, but that was because I had a hunger signal in my brain. This shows that my autonomic nervous system was also engaged. My autonomic system takes over, as my musculoskeletal system knows exactly what to do in terms of contracting muscles, which help those muscles move and operate joints for movement. This is as true for the gross motor movements like reaching, to the fine motor movements like picking out one chip from the bag and placing it into my mouth. My jaw muscles are likewise engaged fully in every bite I take. Those jaw muscles are attached to the mandible, which moves up and down as I chew.
In reading the label of the bag, my neurological system was engaged. I was making decisions based on memories of what I like and what I do not like. All the sense perceptions of the body were engaged in this activity. My tongue is the major sensory organ involved in the process of eating, and the different parts of the tongue detect different flavors such as sweet and salty.
My integumentary system was also engaged throughout the act of eating a snack. From touching the knob on the cabinet, to touching the bag of chips, and finally to touching each potato chip, sense receptors gathered information. That information is in the form of nervous system impulses, and those impulses are carried to the brain via the central nervous system. In the brain, a complex neurological process is engaged whereby I feel pleasure.
My teeth crush each chip as I eat. As they crush the chip, saliva is released via the glandular system. This process is also triggered by the brain. The saliva has enzymes in it, which help to immediately break down the food during the process of mastication. Once the food in my mouth has been pulverized, my swallow reflex is engaged. The muscles of my esophagus contract, and they send the partially digested food down the esophagus to the stomach, where it is processed even further by the stomach acids. The digestive system has been fully engaged. Once the stomach does its work, some nutrients are released into the blood. Waste products are carried to kidney, liver, and intestines for further processing.
“What is Digestion?’ Retrieved online: http://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Digestion.aspx
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