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From a very simplistic viewpoint, the human digestive system can be regarded as a long tube (with dramatic variations in diameter, cross-section, wall properties, pumping mechanisms, regulating valves and in-line sensors). We single out a few fluid mechanical phenomena along the trajectory of a food bolus from the mouth to the small intestine and discuss how they influence sensorial perception, safe transport, and nutrient absorption from a bolus. The focus is on lubrication flows between the tongue and palate, the oropharyngeal stage of swallowing and effects of flow on absorption in the small intestine. Specific challenges and opportunities in this research area are highlighted.
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