The Ins and Outs of Your Intestinal System
Did you know that the most complex journey of your food digestion is through the intestinal system?
The food digestion process kicks off at the mouth to end up in the winding stretch of the intestinal system before getting out through the exit. The intestinal system plays a vital role in nourishing your entire body with nutrients and vitamins.
The gastrointestinal tract (GI or GTI) or digestive tract is in two parts, the upper gastrointestinal tract, which covers the mouth to the duodenum. The lower gastrointestinal tract includes the small intestine and the large intestine.
What is Intestinal System?
The intestinal system is the lower gastrointestinal tract. It includes the small intestine and the large intestine. It starts from the pyloric sphincter, which connects to the underside of the stomach ending at the anal section.
The Small Intestine. The length of the small intestine is between 3m and 6m, depending on the average size of a person. The small intestine is between the stomach and the large intestine. It has three sections due to its functions, duodenum, jejunum, and ileum.
The Duodenum. The first part of the small intestine is the duodenum. It is also the smallest section of the three. It takes the shape of 'C' because of its location. From the stomach, chyme enters the duodenum by the pylorus sphincter.
The food from the stomach mixes with gastric juice that contains hydrochloric acid. The duodenum produces an alkaline mucus with bicarbonate, which neutralizes the acidity in the chyme (partly digested food from the stomach).
The food continues with the chemical digestion using enzymes from the bile and pancreatic juice.
Bile Juice. The bile juice comes from the liver then empties into the gallbladder for storage. The gallbladder then releases the bile juice into the duodenum for digesting and emulsifying the fat in the food. The bile juice also contains alkaline that helps to balance the acid in the chyme.
Pancreatic Juice. The pancreatic juice comes from the pancreas. It enhances the digestive system in the small intestine. In the duodenum, the enzymes from the pancreatic juice digest carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
The duodenum absorbs iron and lives most nutrients for absorption by the other two sections of the small intestine.
Jejunum. From the duodenum, the food is pushed by muscle contraction into the jejunum. The jejunum is the second section of the small intestine. The part is in the middle of the duodenum and ileum.
Most of the nutrient absorption takes part in the jejunum. The jejunum, which has finger-like projections called villi, has high nutrient absorption than the other sections of the small intestine. Carbohydrates, fats, proteins, electrolytes, and minerals are all the nutrients that the jejunum absorbs into the bloodstream.
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