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WBCS Preliminary (Biology): Nutrition

All organisms take Food and utilise it to get energy for the growth and maintenance of their bodies.
  1. Plants are the only organisms that can prepare food for themselves by using water, carbon dioxide and minerals.
  2. The mode of nutrition in which organisms make food themselves from simple substances is called autotrophic (auto = self; trophos = nourishment) nutrition. Therefore, plants are called autotrophs. Animals and most other organisms take in ready made food prepared by the plants. They are called heterotrophs (heteros = other).
  3. PHOTOSYNTHESIS: Chlorophyll, sunlight, carbon dioxide and water are necessary to carry out the process of photosynthesis. The leaves have a green pigment called chlorophyll. It helps leaves to capture the energy of the sunlight. This energy is used to synthesise (prepare) food from carbon dioxide and water. Since the synthesis of food occurs in the presence of sunlight, it is called photosynthesis (Photo: light; synthesis : to combine).
  4. Besides leaves, photosynthesis also takes place in other green parts of the plant — in green stems and green branches.
  5. Complex chemical substances such as carbohydrates are the products of photosynthesis. During the process oxygen is released. The carbohydrates ultimately get converted into starch. The carbohydrates are made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.
  6. The mode of nutrition in which organisms take in nutrients in solution form from dead and decaying matter is called saprotrophic nutrition. Plants which use saprotrophic mode of nutrition are called saprotrophs.
  7. Some organisms live together and share shelter and nutrients. This is called symbiotic relationship. For example, certain fungi live in the roots of trees. The tree provides nutrients to the fungus and, in return, receives help from it to take up water and nutrients from the soil.
  8. There are some plants which do not have chlorophyll. They cannot synthesise their food. They use the heterotrophic mode of nutrition. It takes readymade food from the plant on which it is climbing. The plant on which it climbs is called a host. Since it deprives the host of valuable nutrients, it is called a parasite.
  9. Animals get their food from plants, either directly by eating plants or indirectly by eating animals that eat plants.
  10. The components of food such as carbohydrates are complex substances. These complex substances cannot be utilised as such. So they are broken down into simpler substances. The breakdown of complex components of food into simpler substances is called digestion.
  11. The human digestive system consists of the alimentary canal and secretory glands. It consists of the (i) buccal cavity, (ii) oesophagus, (iii) stomach, (iv) small intestine, (v) large intestine ending in rectum and (vi) anus. The main digestive glands which secrete digestive juices are (i) the salivary glands, (ii) the liver and (iii) the pancreas. The stomach wall and the wall of the small intestine also secrete digestive juices.
  12. Digestion is a complex process involving: (i) ingestion, (ii) digestion, (iii) absorption, (iv) assimilation and (v) egestion.
  13. Digestion of carbohydrates, like starch, begins in the buccal cavity. The digestion of protein starts in the stomach. The bile secreted from the liver, the pancreatic juice from the pancreas and the digestive juice from the intestinal wall complete the digestion of all components of food in the small intestine. The digested food is absorbed in the blood vessels in the small intestine.
  14. Food is taken into the body through the mouth. The process of taking food into the body is called ingestion. We chew the food with the teeth and break it down mechanically into small pieces. Our mouth has the salivary glands which secrete saliva. The saliva breaks down the starch into sugars.
  15. The tongue is a fleshy muscular organ attached at the back to the floor of the buccal cavity. It mixes saliva with the food during chewing and helps in swallowing food.
  16. The swallowed food passes into the foodpipe or oesophagus. Food is pushed down by movement of the wall of the foodpipe. Actually this movement takes place throughout the alimentary canal and pushes the food downwards.
  17. The stomach is a thick-walled bag. Its shape is like a flattened U and it is the widest part of the alimentary canal. It receives food from the food pipe at one end and opens into the small intestine at the other. The inner lining of the stomach secretes mucous, hydrochloric acid and digestive juices. The mucous protects the lining of the stomach. The acid kills many bacteria that enter along with the food and makes the medium in the stomach acidic. The digestive juices break down the proteins into simpler substances.
  18. The small intestine is highly coiled and is about 7.5 metres long. It receives secretions from the liver and the pancreas. Besides, its wall also secretes juices.
  19. The liver is a reddish brown gland situated in the upper part of the abdomen on the right side. It is the largest gland in the body. It secretes bile juice that is stored in a sac called the gall bladder . The bile plays an important role in the digestion of fats.
  20. The pancreas is a large cream coloured gland located just below the stomach. The pancreatic juice acts on carbohydrates and proteins and changes them into simpler forms.
  21. Partly digested food now reaches the lower part of the small intestine where the intestinal juice completes the digestion of all components of the food. The carbohydrates get broken into simple sugars such as glucose, fats into fatty acids and glycerol, and proteins into amino acids.
  22. The digested food can now pass into the blood vessels in the wall of the intestine. This process is called absorption. The inner walls of the small intestine have thousands of finger-like outgrowths. These are called villi (singular villus).
  23. Each villus has a network of thin and small blood vessels close to its surface. The surface of the villi absorbs the digested food materials. The absorbed substances are transported via the blood vessels to different organs of the body where they are used to build complex substances such as the proteins required by the body. This is called assimilation. In the cells, glucose breaks down with the help of oxygen into carbon dioxide and water, and energy is released. The food that remains undigested and unabsorbed then enters into the large intestine.
  24. The large intestine is wider and shorter than small intestine. It is about 1.5 metre in length. Its function is to absorb water and some salts from the undigested food material. The remaining waste passes into the rectum and remains there as semi-solid faeces. The faecal matter is removed through the anus from time-to-time. This is called egestion.
  25. The grazing animals like cows, buffaloes and deer are known as ruminants.They quickly swallow the grass and store it in a separate part of the stomach called rumen. Here the food gets partially digested and is called cud. But later the cud returns to the mouth in small lumps and the animal chews it. This process is called rumination and these animals are called ruminants.
  26. Ruminants have a large sac-like structure between the small intestine and large intestine. The cellulose of the food is digested here by the action of certain bacteria which are not present in humans.


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WBCS Preliminary (Biology): Nutrition

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