Human bodies are intriguing. Our bodies do a lot to help us survive and live a healthy and fulfilling life. One such body part that does more than it is credited for is the digestive system. It is a complex and vital part of our bodies responsible for fueling us for our daily activities.
While many find it a boring subject to talk about, the digestive system apparently is a wonder of nature. Here are 10 interesting facts about the digestive system that you probably didn't know.
Our digestive system is a huge network of organs and tissues working to process our food. The primary job of your digestive system is to break the food down into smaller and absorbable components, extracting essential nutrients while expelling waste.
One fun fact about the digestive system is that it can be incredibly long, with the entire gastrointestinal tract measuring up to 30 feet in an adult human. So, technically, your GI tract is, in fact, longer than a standard school bus.
Interestingly, the small intestine is as long as 9 to 16 ft long, while the large intestine measures only around 5 ft. Then why do we call it the large intestine, you ask? That is because the lumen diameter of the large intestine is more than that of the small intestine.
Yes, you read that right. Most nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine. It has specialized tissues and finger-like projections called villi and microvilli. These structures provide a substantial surface area to maximize the absorption of nutrients from the digested food. Subsequently, the large intestine or colon primarily absorbs water and electrolytes and helps form the feces.
Apart from digestion, the digestive system is also linked to the immune system. The gut-associated lymphoid tissues (GALT) are an integral part of the immune system located throughout the digestive tract. They help monitor and defend against harmful pathogens in the food we consume.
The stomach is a key organ in the digestive system that secretes hydrochloric acid. Yes, the same acid that is so potent that it can dissolve metal. It helps break down food and eliminate harmful bacteria and pathogens.
Another fun fact about the digestive system is that it is often called the "second brain." The reason behind calling it that is the complex network of neurons, also known as the "enteric nervous system." It can function independently and influence your mood and overall well-being.
An article titled, The Gut and the Brain, published by the Harvard Medical School, also mentions that when we see something tasty, the brain signals the gut to prepare for incoming food. We might experience abdominal pain, diarrhea, and nausea when we feel anxious or stressed. These are some messages that travel from the gut to the brain.
Digestion starts as soon as the food is in the mouth, where enzymes in saliva initiate the breakdown of carbohydrates. Hence, it is important to chew the food properly to let it mix with digestive enzymes and begin the breaking down food.
The liver and pancreas are essential accessory organs of the digestive system. The liver produces bile, which helps emulsify fats and make them easier to digest. The pancreas secretes digestive enzymes that further break down food in the small intestine.
Another fun fact about the digestive system that you probably didn't know is that the GI tract is home to trillions of microorganisms, collectively known as the gut microbiome.
According to a research paper published by The National Library of Medicine, gut-associated lymphoid tissues are a group of immune structures in the digestive system responsible for defending the digestive tract against harmful pathogens. Hence, maintaining a healthy gut microbiome for a well-functioning digestive system is important.
Our bodies are fascinating, especially the digestive tract, which is responsible for more than merely processing food. It is a vital system that ensures our bodies receive the nutrients they need while also having intriguing connections to our overall health and well-being.
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Shweta Chaubey, has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2021. An advocate-turned-writer, her desire to create meaningful and positive content has brought her to HPFY and what better than writing ...
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