Say Goodbye to Heartburn with Mayo Clinic’s Expertise

Susan Wagner

Exploring the Journey of Food Through the Digestive System

How does food move through the human body? From when you swallow your first bite to what happens after, let’s take a look at the journey food takes through the digestive system.

The Esophagus

The esophagus is a muscular tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. It travels this path via a process called peristalsis, where muscles in its walls contract and relax in order to push it downward.

The Valve

At the bottom of the esophagus is a round muscle known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This muscle relaxes when food is swallowed, allowing it to pass into your stomach.

The Stomach

Once food enters your stomach, certain cells referred to as proton pumps release acid which helps with digestion. The lining of your stomach is specifically adapted so it can protect itself from this acidity.

The Diaphragm

Your diaphragm serves as a sheet of muscle which separates your chest and abdominal cavities. It works by pinching securely around your esophagus, closing off its entry point into your stomach.

Acid Reflux

It’s actually normal for some acid to splash into your esophagus from time-to-time; this is referred to as reflux or flowing back. Usually in small amounts it doesn’t cause any damage; however if it continues over years then harm may be done to your esophagus due to repeated exposure.

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Causes of Acid Reflux

There are multiple reasons why acid reflux might occur:

  • The valve at the base of your esophagus may weaken and not close properly, allowing acid and partially digested food up into it instead;
  • Your diaphragm may also weaken around your esophagus causing its opening (known as hiatus) become larger than usual – resulting in part of one’s stomach bulging through it (hiatal hernia)

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

When reflux occurs repeatedly over time then one may have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

Mayo Clinic If you’re experiencing any symptoms related either to acid reflux or GERD then Mayo Clinic has an expert team ready for assistance – especially since their division of gastroenterology and hepatology was recently recognised as #1 by US News & World Report! You can find out more information on how get an appointment via their website:


What is the esophagus?

The esophagus is a muscular tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. It is responsible for transporting food from the mouth to the stomach through a process called peristalsis.

What is the lower esophageal sphincter (LES)?

The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a round muscle located at the bottom of the esophagus. It works like a valve and relaxes when you swallow to allow food to pass into the stomach.

What are proton pumps?

Proton pumps are cells located in the stomach that release acid to help digest food.

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