What makes the digestive system such an interesting part of the human body is that it can always adapt. No matter what kinds of food that are eaten, a person’s digestive system breaks down those foods into their vitamins, minerals, and nutrients and then discards the waste in an efficient way. It’s complex functioning is a key component to human life as we know it.
1. It’s an External System
Although there are components of the digestive system that are within the body, it’s actually considered an external system. That’s because food comes in through the mouth and then waste comes out when the food has been processed. This makes it more of a canal than anything else.
2. Before Birth, It Is Sterile
You have a lot of healthy bacteria in your digestive system that help to process foods. Items like yogurt help to make these bacteria flourish. Yet when humans are born, the digestive system is completely sterile. The bacterium comes in the first few days after birth and sometimes from the mother.
3. It Works Differently
Different people have different digestive systems. 1 out of every 4 people can taste food better because they have more taste buds than others. Another 1 in 4 people have fewer taste buds, which means it is harder for them to tell the different tastes that food can have.
4. Babies Develop Digestion Early
Even before the full digestive system has developed within a fetus, it creates a method of early digestion that is effective. More a tube than anything else, it is the foundation of what becomes the complex system that exists upon birth.
5. It’s Not Gravity
Food enters into the stomach not because of gravity, but because of peristalsis. This is a muscle movement that acts in waves down the esophagus. It keeps food moving down into your stomach in all circumstances and even keeps working if you end up choking on something. Best of all, it means you can stand on your head and still safely eat.
6. Small Intestinal Wonders
The stomach isn’t actually the primary part of the digestive system. That honor belongs to the small intestine, which does about 67% of the total work. It’s where nutrients are absorbed and foods are broken down into their core components.
7. How Big Is It?
If you took your entire digestive system and stretched it out, you’d have about 2,700 square feet of surface area. The small intestine is 22 feet long by itself and because it has many folds and villi within it, there are lots of surface areas to take the nutrients out of your food for you.
8. Blame the Bacteria
When someone is flatulent, the smell of that fart isn’t because of the foods that were eaten. It’s instead the bacteria that have fermented inside the digestive system. Some parts of food just can’t be broken down, so they’re pushed along. Once they get to the large intestine, different gasses are created, including that of hydrogen sulfide.