Digestion: 8 interesting facts

Your digestive system is one of the most interesting and complex systems in your body. Here are 8 important things you may not know about your digestive system.

Defying gravity
When you swallow food, the food is passed through the oesophagus and enters the stomach. The food is passed down to the stomach by an involuntary muscle action called peristalsis. It’s a well co-ordinated series of muscle contractions that moves food along the digestive tract. Due to peristalsis, food will always be pushed to the stomach, even if you were to eat upside down.

The expanding stomach
The stomach resembles a sack and can actually expand to four times its usual volume! The total capacity of an adult stomach is about 1 litre of food. But you don’t have to eat until it’s full!

Starting with saliva
Saliva forms a very important part in digestion. The enzymes in saliva help assist in the breakdown of certain proteins in food, making it easier for you to chew and swallow. When you chew food properly, it becomes mushy and paste-like and often forms a ball, called a bolus.

People do not need to go on detox diets, because the liver does that for you. Every tiny bit of food and drink that is put into your body is filtered by the liver, making it one of the most crucial organs in your body. Your liver is also the only organ that can regenerate if some part of it is removed. Following extreme detox diets may hurt the liver and its ability to cleanse the body properly – don’t be fooled by detox diets.

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Colon and large intestine
The large intestine has many separate parts – the caecum, appendix, colon, rectum and ending with the anus.

Flatulence is more than air
Flatulence is a combination of: air that has been swallowed; gases formed during digestion, such as methane and nitrogen; gases created by bacteria in the intestines and gas reactions for the acid in the stomach. The noise made when passing gas is determined by the force with which it is released and the tightness of the anal sphincter!

Original purpose of the appendix
The appendix is often seen as a useless organ, but it did have a purpose many, many years ago. Scientists believe that when our ancestors still relied on plants as their sole source of nutrition, the appendix helped breakdown a type of protein called cellulose. Over time, humans adapted to eat meat and slowly the appendix shrank and became non-essential in human digestion.

Heavy liver
According to Medicine.net, the human liver is the heaviest organ in the body, weighing in on average 1.6Kg.The liver is also said to have over 500 different functions. 

Joanne Hart for HelloDoctor.com