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6 facts you might not know about digestion

Posted by: Patrick Catanzariti on May 6, 2016

6 facts you might not know about digestion

How much do you know about what goes on in your gut? We delve into the world of digestion to find out just what takes place when you eat.

1. Digestion starts in the mouth

Yep, as soon as you take a bite, your body is already starting the process. Chewing gives your body a head start in breaking down food, and your saliva contains enzymes that start the whole process off.

2. You can produce up to 1.5 litres of saliva a day.
Impressive, isn’t it? You produce the most saliva in the late afternoon, and the least while you’re asleep.

3. You don’t need to be upright to swallow
It isn’t gravity that gets the food from your mouth to your stomach – it’s the muscles in your oesophagus. They constrict and relax gradually, pushing the food down. This means you don’t necessarily have to be upright for it to work (although we do recommend it!)

4.Your stomach isn’t doing all of the hard work
Okay, to be fair, your stomach does do most of the physical breaking down. But it’s your small intestine that does the chemical stuff – breaking food into nutrients and absorbing the nutrients into the bloodstream. This is also a team effort- the liver, gallbladder and pancreas produce bile and other enzymes which the small intestine uses.

5. The stomach is its own worst enemy
To break down your dinner into energy and nutrients, your stomach contains hydrochloric acid. Now if you’re thinking, ‘but isn’t that really strong and corrosive?’ you’d be right! The stomach actually has to protect itself from the acid it produces. It does this by producing a layer of mucus to line the stomach with. Delightful, I know, but it’s better than the alternative – which is that it starts digesting itself.

6. The small intestine is longer than your large intestine
You read that right! Your small intestine is about 6-7 metres long (although this can vary). It fits nice and neatly in your body because of the way it’s folded up. Your large intestine is only about 1.5 metres long, but it is wider.

 

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