The small intestine is the money maker for a person’s digestive system. It’s the place where digested food flows so that nutrients can be taken out of it and the body refueled. What is amazing about this part of the body is how long it really is. It’s coiled up in a person’s abdomen, but if it stretched out to its true length, it would be 20 feet long. That’s 20 feet of food processing goodness that can help get the most out of every bite. Here are some other interesting facts to consider as well.
1. It’s a Holy Trinity
There are three parts that make up the small intestine: the ileum, the jejunum, and the duodenum. They adhere to the body thanks to the abdominal wall and are specifically shaped so that they’ll fit into the available space. The tubes of the intestine are generally very soft, but also very elastic so they can accommodate varying amounts of food products. As the food travels through these three parts, all usable components are extracted and funneled to the appropriate systems.
2. Hire It As a Prep Chef
One of the most unique aspects of the small intestine is that the muscles that support it act like a chopping knife. The muscles segment the food into usable sections by “mincing” it through rhythmic contractions. The first muscles of the small intestine will actually relax and contract up to 16 times per minute to make sure that the food entering the small intestine is properly chopped up and ready to be digested.
3. An Invisible Worker
Most of the time we can’t even feel the small intestine working. It’s a behind-the-scenes worker that just goes about its job every day without complaint. That can all change, however, if we wind up eating too much food for some reason. Too much food makes the small intestine work harder and this can cause the chopping muscles to cramp up from the work. If foreign substances are in the food or if pathogens are present, the small intestines have been known to complain quite loudly as well.
4. It’s Not Much of an Acid Fan
When food is processed by the stomach, the end result is a very acidic mixture of proteins, acids, and other substances that the body needs. The only problem is that the small intestine really hates acidic items. To counter these acids, the small intestine will produce secretions that are very alkaline in nature so that the food can be processed. Sometimes these alkaline materials come from the wall of the intestine, while others might come from the liver or the pancreas.
5. Like a Sponge
When the food materials encounter the walls of the small intestine, the villosites that line the walls help to absorb the items that the body needs. As the nutrients are absorbed, they pass through the small intestine wall and into the blood stream so they can be used.
The small intestine is an incredible work of nature. It allows us to digest foods quickly and effectively so that we have the energy we need. That’s why taking care of it is so important. Without your small intestine, the process of digesting food would become incredibly difficult.