What is the difference between digestion and absorption?
All animals take in food which undergoes various processes such as ingestion, digestion, absorption, and defecation. Digestion and absorption play a vital role in the growth and development of the organism.
The core difference between digestion and absorption is that digestion is the process of mechanical and chemical breakdown of food into building blocks while absorption is the process of assimilation of nutrients into the bloodstream
What Is Digestion?
Digestion is the mechanical and chemical breakdown of food particles into tiny building blocks. The process takes place in the digestive tract of an animal.
The digestion process is also known as catabolism since it involves breaking down of large molecules into smaller monomers.
The process of digestion starts in the mouth through the stomach and ends in the jejunum. Teeth in the mouth are responsible for the mechanical process and enzymes for the chemical process.
What Is Absorption?
Absorption is the process of assimilating nutrients into the bloodstream. The process of absorption begins in the stomach through the small intestines and end in the large intestines.
The mechanism responsible for facilitating absorptions is active transport, passive diffusion, endocytosis, and facilitative diffusion.
Comparison Chart: Digestion Vs Absorption
|Meaning||It is the mechanical and chemical breakdown of food||It is the process of assimilating nutrients into the body|
|Occurrence in animals||Gastrointestinal tract||Mucosal epithelium of the small intestine|
|Occurrence in fungi||Secretion of enzymes on the external food source||Cell wall|
|Commencement||Mouth in animal||Stomach in animals|
|Caused by||The action of digestive enzyme||Either active or passive transport|
|Energy Requirement||Require energy to breakdown food||No energy is required|
|Role||Mechanically and chemically breakdown of food to enhance absorption||Intake of nutrients and release into the bloodstream|
|Connection with blood||Does not relate to blood||Tend to relate with blood|
|Changes in the structure of the food||Mechanical and chemical structure of food changes||No change in the structure of the food|
Core Differences between Digestion and Absorption
- Digestion is the mechanical and chemical breakdown of large particles to smaller particles while absorption is the assimilation of nutrients into the bloodstream
- Digestion starts in the mouth and absorption in the stomach
- Digestion occurs inside the intestinal tract while absorption inside the intestines
- Digestion end in the duodenum while absorption in the ileum and jejunum
- Digestion requires energy to breakdown food while energy is not required during absorption
- Food experience mechanical and chemical change in structure while in absorption have no such changes
- Absorption has a close relationship with blood while digestion has no connection with blood
- Digestion tends to involve digestive enzymes while absorption does not entail enzymes
- Digestion works well on large and complex digestion matter only while absorption on simple digestive and non-digestive components
- Absorption is triggered by either active or passive transport while digestion is not triggered at all.
Similarities between Digestion and Absorption
- Both involve the digestive system
- Both occur in heterotrophs
- Both are sequential events
- Both require energy
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The main difference between digestion and absorption is that digestion is the mechanical and chemical process of breaking down large food particles to smaller ones while absorption is the assimilation of nutrients into the bloodstream.