It aches when you’ve had too much candy, gets butterflies when you fall in love, and can grow and shrink depending on how much you feed it - let’s give a warm welcome to the STOMACH! (Golf clap)
Our stomach is a little bag of tricks that takes care of us long after we’ve finished lunch. It’s the first line of defense in the digestive process and has stretching capacities that far exceed Stretch Armstrong. Get ready for a few surprises, this muscular organ was designed to impress.
How it Works
The process goes a little something like this: We chew our food. It gets broken down by saliva. We swallow - sending that food down a long pipe called the esophagus. The food travels
and finally lands in the stomach - where it hangs out for a while.
The stomach is located between the esophagus and the top of the intestines. Separating the esophagus and the stomach is a muscular flap called the sphincter. It's role is to keep our food and stomach acid from reentering the esophagus (no steps backward!).
Our food now swims in the stomach pool, which is full of gastric juices. There's a mix of acid and enzymes to help digest the food, getting it ready to enter the next step of the digestive process: the small intestine.
Acid plays an important role while food is in the stomach. In addition to breaking down food - it kills bacteria. But if the acid is so strong, why doesn’t it burn through the stomach? Excellent question. The stomach stays unharmed because it produces a layer of mucus to protect it. Pretty cool, huh? Here are some other interesting stomach facts that will impress your friends.
When you blush (your face turns red), the lining of your stomach ALSO turns red!
Food stays in the stomach around 4 hours.
The top part of our stomach lies against the diaphragm.
The adult stomach can expand up to 10 times its size!
The stomach's hydrochloric acid helps dissolve food and is strong enough to dissolve razor blades!
Stomach acid not only breaks down our food, it kills bacteria.
That grumbling sound the stomach makes when you're hungry is actually acid being produced in the anticipation of food.
Hydrochloric acid also helps kill off bacteria and viruses that may enter with the food you eat.
Eat fiber - Fiber not only moves digestion along, it promotes good bacteria and fights off illness.
Hakuna Matata - The stress you experience actually effects the stomach. It causes aches, increased acid production, and can even cause the esophagus to spasm - making you more susceptible to infection.
Drink water - Hydration flushes out toxins and keeps your digestion flowing.
Avoid salty foods - Salt effects the lining in your stomach (the mucus) that acts as a protective barrier. Salt has been linked to cancer and ulcers, so when someone asks you to “pass the salt,” hide it from them instead.
Avoid processed meats - Bologna, hot dogs, bacon, sausage, ham... These meats have been linked to stomach cancer and it’s advised to avoid them altogether (sorry Okies!).
Up for more Bernard's Body Series? Learn about his Brain, Liver, Lungs and Heart next!