Maybe this is of interest to you. During my studies for my master of science I had to learn a lot about the digestive system. I think it's super interesting, so I decided to briefly describe how our digestive system works here. I hope you find it interesting.
As the name suggests, our digestion takes care of the digestion of our food. This is done so that our body can absorb and use the nutrients. These nutrients can be converted back into energy or building materials. The building materials can be used again to grow or replace damaged cells.
How digestion works is incredibly complicated, but I'll do my best to explain it briefly and easily.
Digestion starts as soon as we eat or drink something. It starts in the mouth. The food is chewed and will mix with our saliva. Enzymes in our saliva already ensure a light digestion and make the food creamy and smooth. This makes it easy to swallow.
Once the food and drink have been swallowed, it will be delivered to the stomach through a muscular tube of approximately 25 centimeters or 10 inches. This is our esophagus. The muscle wall in our esophagus will slowly transfer food to the stomach.
Once the food is in the stomach, the valve between the stomach and esophagus will close, preventing gastric juices from entering the esophagus. In the stomach, the food will be mixed with our gastric juice. Our stomach can withstand this gastric juice because there is a thick mucous membrane that protects the stomach against the gastric juices. The gastric juices mainly consists of hydrochloric acid and enzymes. The enzymes break down the food further and the hydrochloric acid kills the pathogenic bacteria in the food. On average, food stays in the stomach for between 1-5 hours. This can differ with what you eat. Eating fatty foods can take longer. The stomach passes small amounts of food to our small intestine. This is regulated by a valve between our stomach and the first part of our small intestine: the duodenum.
Our small intestine consists of 3 parts. Our duodenum, jejunum and ileum. The most important part of our digestion takes place in the small intestine. In the small intestine, digestive juices and enzymes from the pancreas and gallbladder are added to our food. The enzymes break down the food into even smaller particles. These become our nutrients. The nutrients are absorbed through our intestinal wall to our bloodstream. Food remains in the small intestine for an average of 2-4 hours. Not all of our food can be absorbed. The remainder that is not absorbed will be sent further in the small intestine to the large intestine. Our ileum is connected to the caecum. this is the first part of our large intestine (colon). There is also a valve in between.
As soon as the remaining food ends up in the colon, it is still quite watery. The function of the colon is therefore also to remove the moisture and salts from the food, so that it gets a thicker shape. This thick form is our poo. This process in our colon can take an average of 5-70 hours. The colon has a transition to our rectum. Here our poo is temporarily stored until a signal enters the brain so that you know that you have to go to the toilet.
I hope you enjoyed this small story of our digestive system.
Questions, feedback or ideas for another post? Message me.
Sascha Bargi BSc. Pt. & MSc. Ost. in training.