The digestive system is one of the earliest body systems that we learn about in school. We practice drawing all of the organs involved in the process and remembering the functions of each one of them. Nature has designed our bodies in such a way that we know how to assimilate good nutrients from the food we eat and throw out the stuff we don’t need.
The process of digestion is a long one, including many organs and their enzymes, who work in perfect harmony. We have compiled a few interesting facts about the digestive system which you should definitely know about. Give them a read below:
- If you thought that gravity helped move the food from your mouth to your stomach, you were wrong! Peristalsis, or the contraction and relaxation of your esophagus is what actually moves the food down the pipe and to the stomach. Do you know what that means? You can eat while standing on your head and the food will still safely reach the stomach!
- We all know that the small intestine isn’t really small. In fact, its surface area is about 2,700 square feet (250 square m) that is roughly the size of a tennis court. The small intestine has very tiny fingerlike projections called villi and microvilli that aid absorption of nutrients and increase the surface area of the intestine.
- Ruminating animals such as cows, giraffes, deer and cattle have a superior stomach, with 4 functioning chambers in it! This helps them digest the plant-based food they eat.
- The study of workings of the stomach was nothing less than a live show. In 1822, a teenager named Alexis St. Martin was shot. William Beaumont, an army surgeon, patched the kid up but he still had a hole in his stomach’s abdominal wall. This hole, or fistula, facilitated Beaumont to study the stomach in a whole new way!
- The stomach’s biggest enemy is… the stomach itself. You see, your stomach secretes nearly 2 liters of hydrochloric acid every day. This acid is very strong and corrosive, which can easily hurt the stomach. But like every other perfect puzzle, our body has a solution. While the stomach secretes this acid, it also maintains a thick coating of mucus along the inner walls for protection. This layer is replenished every two weeks to maintain its integrity.
- Before 1982, the general consensus was that stomach ulcers were due to spicy foods. Two Australia researches have since then found the real culprit — Helicobacter pylori. With this discovery, came a better treatment option too: antibiotics. Barry Marshall and Robin Warren won the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 2005 for their discovery.
- Many people check their “gut feeling” when they feel stuck. And they should! The gut is deemed as the body’s second brain due to the enteric nervous system it’s built up of. Your gut is capable of controlling your food urges as well as producing important hormones such as serotonin. It also controls the functions of the gut muscles.
- If you were an ancient royal Greek or Roman, you probably ate your food while lounging on the couch by your side, rarely sitting up. Not recommended anymore!
- Here’s something weird to chew on — Animals like the seahorse, chimera, and platypus have no stomach at all. Food goes straight in and straight out.
- Another interesting animal fact — Sloths (those slightly weird animals that crawl around very slowly and share names with one of the seven sins), take a whole month to digest one single meal. No wonder they try to conserve their energy by doing things slowly.
So these were the ten mind tickling facts about your digestive system! Remember, the food you eat goes through a lot of break down to give a handful of nutrients. Your digestive system works very hard to keep you moving and working. Try to eat healthy and maintain a biological clock to keep your digestive system functioning smoothly!
1. 11 Surprising Facts About the Digestive System. Available at: https://www.livescience.com/40187-digestive-system-surprising-facts.html. Accessed on 17 September 2020.
2. 12 Facts About Your Digestive System. Available at: https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/581045/digestive-system-facts. Accessed on 17 September 2020.