The Mouth and Pharynx

The earliest stages of digestion begin in the mouth, where food particles are reduced in size, lubricated with saliva, and prepared for swallowing. The saliva also contains the digestive enzyme salivary amylase, which begins the hydrolysis of starch molecules. Cell wall polysaccharides are an important determinant of food texture, and they exert an indirect effect on the degree of mechanical breakdown of plant foods prior to swallowing. Hard foods tend to be chewed more thoroughly than soft ones, and hence the presence of dietary fiber in unrefined foods may begin to regulate digestion at a very early stage.

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