Food

Digestive Health 101: Can’t Ignore that Gut Feeling

19. Your Gallbladder Your gallbladder is a four-inch, pear-shaped organ. It’s positioned under your liver in the upper-right section of your abdomen. The gallbladder stores bile,… Rina - September 4, 2020
A closer look at the gallbladder. Shutterstock

19. Your Gallbladder

Your gallbladder is a four-inch, pear-shaped organ. It’s positioned under your liver in the upper-right section of your abdomen. The gallbladder stores bile, a combination of fluids, fat, and cholesterol.  The gallbladder sends this stored bile into the small intestine to aid in the digestion of food. It then delivers bile into the small intestine. Your gallbladder serves as a storage pouch. It concentrates the bile into the form that’s best used for digestion. When you eat, the bile is squeezed out of the gallbladder and goes into the first part of the small intestine, the duodenum, through the common bile duct.

Image via Shutterstock

While the liver is hard at work making the dark green bile that helps with digestion, the gallbladder holds the bile until you actually need it, says Erin Gilbert, MD, an assistant professor of surgery at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. “It concentrates the bile into the form that’s best used for digestion,” Dr. Gilbert says. “When you eat, the bile is squeezed out of the gallbladder and goes into the first part of the small intestine, the duodenum, through the common bile duct.” The liver produces anywhere from 500 to 1,000 milliliters (ml) of bile per day, but the gallbladder can concentrate that bile up to tenfold and store 30 to 50 ml of the denser bile.

The pancreas. Shutterstock

20. Your Pancreas:

Your pancreas is located behind your stomach and is attached to both your gallbladder and your small intestines. Among other functions, the pancreas aids in digestion by producing digestive enzymes and secreting them into the duodenum (the first segment of the small intestine).  These enzymes break down protein, fats, and carbohydrates.

Human pancreas. Image via Shutterstock

The pancreas is an organ located in the abdomen. It plays an essential role in converting the food we eat into fuel for the body’s cells. The pancreas has two main functions: an exocrine function that helps in digestion and an endocrine function that regulates blood sugar. Now, it is possible for people to live without a pancreas. Surgery to remove the pancreas is called pancreatectomy. Removing the pancreas can also reduce the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food. Without artificial insulin injections and digestive enzymes, a person without a pancreas cannot survive.

The colon (large intestine). Image via Shutterstock

21. The Colon (Large Intestine)

The large intestine, also called the colon, is part of the final stages of digestion. It is a large tube that escorts waste from the body. The body has two types of intestines. The small intestine is connected to the stomach and handles the middle part of the digestion process. A 5- to 7-foot-long muscular tube that connects the small intestine to the rectum and is responsible for processing waste so that defecation is easy and convenient.  It is made up of the ascending (right) colon, the transverse (across) colon, the descending (left) colon, and the sigmoid colon, which connects to the rectum.

Human large intestine. Image via Shutterstock

The 4 major functions of the large intestine are the recovery of water and electrolytes, formation and storage of feces, and fermentation of some of the indigestible food matter by bacteria. The ileocaecal valve controls the entry of material from the last part of the small intestine called the ileum. The colon is much wider than the small intestine but is also much shorter. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the small intestine is 22 feet (6.7 meters) long. The colon is only 6 feet (1.8 m) long. This 6 feet of dense muscle is divided into four parts: the ascending colon, the transverse colon, the descending colon, and the sigmoid colon.

The Rectum and Anus. Image via Shutterstock

22. The Rectum and Anus

An 8-inch chamber that connects the colon to the anus.  The rectum receives stool from the colon, sends signals to the brain if there is stool to be evacuated, and holds stool until evacuation can happen. The last part of the digestive tract is the anus, which consists of pelvic floor muscles and two anal sphincters (internal and external).  Together their jobs are to detect rectal contents.

The Rectum and Anus. Image via Shutterstock

Whether they are liquid, gas, or solid, and then control when stool should and shouldn’t be excreted from your body. The external sphincter of the anus is under voluntary control. This means you can decide whether you will open your bowels or not. Young children have to learn to control this during toilet training.

Abdominal discomfort. Image via Shutterstock

23. Medical Conditions Involving Multiple Digestive Organs

There are many medical conditions that involve more than one digestive organ. These include: Gallstones, hard deposits that form in your gallbladder. Celiac Disease, a serious sensitivity to gluten that damages your villi, in your small intestines that help you to absorb nutrients from the foods you eat. Crohn’s Disease, an inflammatory bowel disease that can affect any part of the digestive tract.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Image via Shutterstock

Ulcerative Colitis, similar to Crohn’s, but the part of the digestive tract affected is solely the large intestine. Irritable Bowel Syndrome, stomach pain or discomfort at least three times a month for several months. Hemorrhoids, inflammation of the blood vessels at the end of your digestive tract. Diverticulitis, Small pouches can form anywhere there are weak spots in the lining of your digestive system. Anal Fissure,  tiny oval-shaped tears in the lining of the very end of your digestive tract.

Candidiasis of the tongue. Image via Shutterstock

24.  What is Candida?

Candidiasis is a fungal infection due to any type of Candida (a type of yeast). When it affects the mouth, it is commonly called thrush. Signs and symptoms include white patches on the tongue or other areas of the mouth and throat. Other symptoms may include soreness and problems swallowing. The 7 main symptoms of Candida overgrowth are: Oral Thrush. Candidiasis that develops in the mouth or throat is called “thrush.” Tiredness and Fatigue.

Candidiasis. Image via Shutterstock

Recurring Genital or Urinary Tract Infections. Digestive Issues. Sinus Infections. Skin and Nail Fungal Infections, and Joint Pain. One of the symptoms of systemic Candida is weight gain, or difficulty losing weight. It can cause the kind of stubborn fat deposits that are hard to shake off, no matter how little you eat or how much exercise you do. Candida can lead to excess fat deposits in a few different ways.

GOOD BACTERIAL FLORA. Image via Shutterstock

25. SIBO Candida’s best friend

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a serious condition affecting the small intestine. It occurs when bacteria that normally grow in other parts of the gut start growing in the small intestine. That causes pain and diarrhea. It can have mild symptoms or full-blown malabsorption. Small intestine fungal overgrowth (SIFO) occurs when excessive amounts of fungus populate the small bowel. If SIBO is left untreated it can lead to other conditions such as IBS, leaky gut, obesity, acne, anemia, fatigue and an increase of symptoms in gut-brain disorders such as anxiety, depression, and autism.

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth

It can also cause weight gain. SIBO can slow down metabolism and affect your insulin and leptin resistance, both of which help regulate hunger and satiety. The most common symptoms of SIBO include: Abdominal pain/discomfort. Bloating and abdominal distention. Diarrhea. Constipation (generally associated with methanogens). Gas and belching. In more severe cases, there may be weight loss and symptoms related to vitamin deficiencies.

A happy woman holds her stomach. Shutterstock

26.  In summary

The stomach is the widest part of the digestive system. Your stomach not only digests food, but it also stores it. It can hold a bit more than a quart (1 liter) of food at once. The design of the stomach allows a person to eat a large meal that can be digested slowly over time.  The stomach secretes acid and enzymes that digest food. Ridges of muscle tissue called rugae line the stomach. The stomach muscles contract periodically, churning food to enhance digestion. The pyloric sphincter is a muscular valve that opens to allow food to pass from the stomach to the small intestine.

Digestive system. Image via Shutterstock

The stomach has 3 main functions: temporary storage for food, which passes from the esophagus to the stomach where it is held for 2 hours or longer. Mixing and breakdown of food by contraction and relaxation of the muscle layers in the stomach. The digestion of food. It is part of your gut (gastrointestinal tract). A healthy gut contains healthy bacteria and immune cells that ward off infectious agents like bacteria, viruses, and fungi. A healthy gut also communicates with the brain through nerves and hormones, which helps maintain general health and well-being.

Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

https://www.livescience.com/52026-colon-large-intestine.html

https://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/health-wellness/article/3046172/stomach-everything-you-need-know-about-vital-organ-you
https://www.livescience.com/52046-stomach-facts-functions-diseases.html
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4017034/

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