For centuries, how the gut worked was a bit of a mystery. In fact, in the early days of medicine, it was thought to be one long tube that food passes through. Later, it was revealed to be a series of organs forming a system, each with a role to play. It wasn’t until scientists discovered the complexity of the large intestine that we began to understand how all the pieces of the digestive health puzzle fit together.
The full journey of food and drink through the body reveals of lot of important functions that we might take for granted. When we swallow food, contractions in the oesophagus push the food down into the stomach, where acid and peptic enzymes dilute and help to break up the food, soften connective tissue and digest proteins. This material then passes through the small intestine, a six-metre long tube where proteins, fats and carbohydrates are digested into amino acids, simple sugars and fatty acids.
The large intestine is one of the last stages of the digestive system and has an important role. Here, material that hasn’t been absorbed by the small intestine remains for up to 70 hours as trillions of bacteria ferment sugars, starches and proteins to produce short chain fatty acids, a useful source of energy for the body.
Your gut is a complex, interlinked system. Find out more about the roles it plays in physical health and how it influences other functions and processes of the body!
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