The gastrointestinal tract is a unique system. Despite using it every day, most people only have a basic understanding of what it is and how it works. Food goes in the mouth, gets digested and used for energy and nutrients, and what cannot be used is passed out of the body. There is a lot more to the system. Here are some facts about your digestive tract that you may not have known. It’s always good to learn more about yourself, and it can be fun to share that information with others. Who knows, if might even win you your next trivia contest!
There are two types of digestion: mechanical and chemical. Mechanical digestion is the process of breaking down food manually, through chewing.
Your mouth doesn’t only chew food, but warms or cools it to a suitable temperature for digestion.
It takes about 7 seconds for food to travel from your your mouth to your stomach through the esophagus.
Stomach acid is composed of enzymes and hydrochloric acid. When it passes into the duodenum, it is neutralized by sodium bicarbonate. Your digestive tract is protected from this acid with a thick mucus layer.
Your stomach can hold about 1.5 liters of food and liquid at a time.
The thick liquid passed on from the stomach is called chyme
The small intestine is about 6 meters (20 feet) long, while the large intestine is only about 1.5 meters (5 feet) long.
On average, a female’s small intestine is slightly larger at 7.1 meters than a male’s 6.9 meters.
Most of the digestion process is done in the small intestine. Over 90% of digestion and absorption of nutrients takes place here.
Your entire digestive tract is less than 30 ft long.
Your pancreas and your liver produce enzymes to help you break down food. The liver also works to detoxify your body, and can regenerate itself when up to ⅔ of it is lost.
Fiber is indigestible, and is left over when all other nutrients are removed from food. It can be classified as water soluble and insoluble, and helps bulk up and soften your stool.
Your GI tract plays host to over 500 species of bacteria. While many of them can be helpful, they can be very dangerous if they find their way to other parts of the body.
The GI tract is a complex and fascinating part of your everyday life, and one that most people pay no attention to until something goes wrong with it. Make sure to take good care of it. If you have any questions, Dr. Davidson will be happy to answer them during your next appointment. If this kind of thing interests you, you might just have a career as a gastroenterologist yourself!
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