The mouth might be the start of the digestive system, but it’s the large intestine that is the final major segment of it. This mechanism is long, bulky, and the last place the body is going to try to get nutrients out of the foods that are being eaten. It’s divided into 5 segments and works hard to pull any fluids, salts, vitamins, minerals, and other needed items out of the fuel the mouth consumed. Once it’s done that, it will help to remove the waste that the body can’t use out of the body.
Want to know more about the large intestine? Here are some more interesting facts about this part of the digestive system.
1. It’s large, but it’s also small.
The large intestine has its name not because of its length, but because of its width. It’s only about 5 feet long, or about 25% of the average length of the small intestine, but is much wider. The way it processes food, however, is the same. Muscles help to propel the food mass through the system so that every last molecule of nutrition can be taken from it. These muscles are so strong that they can actually work against gravity.
2. It handles a lot of food.
You probably eat around 0.5 pounds of food during the average sitting. Some people might eat more, while others may choose to eat less. When all of that food is added up over a lifetime, however, the large intestine has a lot of work to do. It will process over 50 tons of consumed items over a lifetime.
3. It provides a musical symphony of odors.
The large intestine has a number of bacteria living in it that love to break down the foods that you are eating. Sometimes these bacteria or the ones that survive the digestive process will begin to ferment the food as well. This causes some gas to form and eventually the very noticeable flatulence. Most gas build-ups can resolve themselves in about an hour on their own.
4. Do you need some long term storage?
The primary job of the large intestine is to get water out of the food products. Sometimes it needs extra time to make sure all of the water has been extracted. Waste products can stay within the large intestine for 2 days or sometimes even more under certain circumstances.
5. You can have it removed.
Because the large intestine pretty much just keeps you partially hydrated, it isn’t actually necessary for survival. For this reason, people may opt to have their large intestine completely removed should they have an injury to it or find that they have cancer. They won’t be able to absorb as much water from their foods and will need to drink more liquids to avoid dehydration, but that’s better than the alternative.
The large intestine might be the final resting point for food in the digestive system, but it’s also one of the main sources of hydration within the digestive system. You can also blame the large intestine for the debate about whoever denies it actually supplied it.