The Digestive System – Introduction
Your digestive system does essential work for your body. It has to break the food that goes into your body down into parts. This process enables you to get the nutrients you need from foods and gets rid of anything that it doesn’t need.
Your body needs proper, regular nourishment in order for it to be able to work. Diseases of the digestive tract can have far-reaching implications for the rest of your body if nutrients aren’t being absorbed properly. The digestive system is complex (there are obviously some variations), and a healthy functioning system takes about 50 hours for the food to pass all the way through and out the other end. In doing so, things can go wrong quite easily. The passage of food can actually vary from 24 – 72 hours, depending on a few factors.
This digestive system varies in length from person to person but is usually 25 to 30 feet long in an adult person. The oesophagus (a tube that goes from the pharynx to the stomach and which food passes through) is about 9 to 10 inches long. The small intestine is around 23 feet long, whilst the large intestine is about 5 feet long.
Once the food that you put into your mouth is chewed and swallowed, it passes through the stomach and small intestine over 4 to 7 hours. It takes about 40 hours for it to pass through the large intestine, however. (females take longer to digest food than males do).
Note: If you have digestive problems, the food’s journey may take longer or shorter than this.
Digestive System – The Journey
The digestion of food actually begins in the mouth, where the saliva starts breaking it down. Once the various nutrients etc., are released via this process, it creates energy for our body to be able to function. It makes red blood cells, builds bone mass, and a whole host of other wonderful things. So if you don’t eat properly or regularly, you can clearly see that your body will deteriorate, and your body cannot sustain itself.
The Digestive system – The food’s journey from one opening to another
The digestive system is a long tube that runs from your mouth to your bum. Along this journey, many things happen, and the end result is that food waste that the body no longer needs comes out as poop, to put it quite simply.
The breakdown of all food that is eaten begins in your mouth, and once you have chewed it, you physically swallow it. From that point on, your digestive system does the rest on autopilot.
The food goes down the oesophagus and through a valve which is known as the lower oesophagal sphincter, and into the stomach. Digestive juices come into play when it reaches the stomach, and along with your stomach muscles, the food gets mixed up (a bit like putting it into a slow blender).
Following that, a valve known as the pyloric valve lets the food travel from the stomach, and then into the first part of the small intestine. This is called the duodenum.
When it hits the small intestine, it is mixed with more digestive juices from both the pancreas and the liver. This process breaks it down further. It is where the real work is done, and most of the nutrients are extracted from the food. The walls of the intestine absorb the necessary minerals and vitamins. Whatever food the body cannot use or break down moves on through the small intestine by way of the ileocecal valve and onto the large intestine.
The large intestine is where a lot of liquid is absorbed from the undigested waste food material.
This process can take at least 24 hours or even longer. It then goes into the last part of the colon, called the rectum. Finally, when there is some poop in the rectum, it signals to the brain that you need to get rid of it and – chocks away! Thus, the poop is disposed of, hopefully in a timely manner, for a normal digestive system.
GLUTEN-FREE LIVING TIP:
If you want to know how long your body is taking to process your food, swallow some cooked sweetcorn. Don’t chew it.
The body is unable to digest all of the sweetcorn, so when you poop – guess what. you should see some whole sweetcorn…eh voila! you will know how long it takes.
The Digestive System and IBS
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