Eating and drinking generate sequential mechanosensory signals along the digestive tract. These signals are communicated to the brain for the timely initiation and regulation of diverse ingestive and digestive processes — ranging from appetite control and tactile perception to gut motility, digestive fluid secretion and defecation — that are vital for the proper intake, breakdown and absorption of nutrients and water. Gut mechanosensation has been investigated for over a century as a common pillar of energy, fluid and gastrointestinal homeostasis, and recent discoveries of specific mechanoreceptors, contributing ion channels and the well-defined circuits underlying gut mechanosensation signalling and function have further expanded our understanding of ingestive and digestive processes at the molecular and cellular levels. In this Review, we discuss our current understanding of the generation of mechanosensory signals from the digestive periphery, the neural afferent pathways that relay these signals to the brain and the neural circuit mechanisms that control ingestive and digestive processes, focusing on the four major digestive tract parts: the oral and pharyngeal cavities, oesophagus, stomach and intestines. We also discuss the clinical implications of gut mechanosensation in ingestive and digestive disorders.