The digestive system: what goes in, must come out

Take a bite of an apple. Chew, swallow, and then presto, it comes out the other end! But how does it happen? How do our bodies turn an apple into fuel that helps us play sports, breathe, walk, and talk? The digestive system is the body system responsible for this process. The basic process is well understood by scientists but new research is coming out all the time changing the way we understand the inner workings of our guts.

Image of the organs of the digestive system
There are many resources on the Internet and through the library that can help you learn about the digestive system. Visit KidsHealth or TeensHealth to find information in English and Spanish for kids and teens including videos, articles, and puzzles to help you learn all about the digestive system and other health topics. Ask a Biologist lets you ask a real biologist science related questions. Ask a Biologist also has lots of great information about microbes and the role they play in our digestive systems.

The Multnomah County Library has science databases where you can search for topics, view videos and print pictures to help with school reports. Today's Science is a database that can help you answer questions like, "What is the latest research on the roll of bacteria in our guts?" or to ask more general questions such as, "how does the digestive system work?" For help using Today's Science, the library provides this useful handout.  If you need to look up basic facts about the digestive system, but can't use Wikipedia, try using World Book, an online encyclopedia. Here you will find information for elementary, middle and high schoolers, great for writing school reports.

When you use the library databases outside of the library, you will need to log in with a library card. Try using key words like: "Digestive System," and "Body Systems." Topics that might include the Digestive System are "Human Anatomy & Physiology," "Nutrition," and "Health."

Check out this video from KidsHealth about the Digestive System from KidsHealth:

How the Digestive System Works

If you want to explore this topic more, or if you have more questions about any of this, Ask a Librarian! We’ll be happy to talk more about it.


What goes in must go out. That's true in the digestive system. But I heard that there's an artificial man-made chemical, Aspartame with lots of alias that can't digest out of one's digestive system. It harbors in the brain and down to the toe and back up to the brain and stays there. Accumulation of this stuff over time creates a large packed brown oil type sphere, much like a tennis ball or golf ball or larger. It doesn't go out of our system. These ingredients are contained in some ice cream, potato chips, bubble gums, soda, etc... Does anyone know if there's any food that can break down this stuff and digest it out of the system? --- Wondering.
Thank you for asking your question about how aspartame breaks down in the body. This would be a fantastic question to ask on the "Ask a Biologist" website referenced in the blog post above. You may also try looking up aspartame in one of the library's databases, such as Grolier Online, Today’s Science or AccessScience. Doing a search for the word “aspartame” in the search bar retrieves several articles about aspartame and how it is metabolized in the body. To access these databases, visit the "Research Tools" link under "Research" in the menu at the top of the page. The National Library of Medicine’s website, MedLinePlus ( also provides information about aspartame including links to other trusted health websites. If you have further questions about this topic, you may also contact a librarian directly by clicking on the "Help" menu above.

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