This J-shaped organ plays a significant part in digesting your food, but would it surprise you to learn that there is more to it than that? Read on below to learn more about your stomach.
1. Your Stomach Isn’t The Only Part Digesting Food
Most people think that all the digestion occurs in the stomach. However, the truth is that the stomach’s primary function is to hold the food you eat. While containing the food, it mixes in some juices to start partial digestion.
Slowly, the stomach passes this partially digested food, known as chyme, to the small intestine. It is here that most of the absorption of nutrients occurs.
2. Stomach Acid Is Strong Enough To Burn Skin
The stomach juices your body makes are responsible for the breaking down of food. It lets your body absorb nutrients. A component of this is hydrochloric acid (HCl), a potent substance that can burn your skin.
This acid causes a burning sensation in your chest or throat when you experience heartburn. So, why isn’t your stomach burned every time it’s doing its job? The answer is that it has a structural design that allows it to hold this acid safely. The inside of your stomach has a cover of a thick layer of mucus that protects it from burns.
3. The Stomach Has Many Parts
If you look at online stomach images, it is easy to think it is just one bag of muscle. On the contrary, the stomach has five divisions, and each one plays a part in the organ’s function.
The cardia is at the top of your stomach, where you can find the cardiac sphincter. This part prevents food from going back up the esophagus.
The fundus is the rounded section next to the cardia. It collects the gases formed during digestion.
The corpus is the body and the largest part of your stomach. This part is where the stomach contracts rhythmically to mix the food and stomach acid.
The antrum is the part of the stomach that holds partially digested food before sending it to the small intestine.
The pylorus is the lowest part of the stomach and where you can find the pyloric sphincter. It controls when your stomach empties its contents into the small intestine.
4. It Takes Hours For Food To Pass Through The Stomach
It takes two to four hours for the stomach to digest food before passing it to the small intestine. However, this entirely depends on the food you consume.
Carbohydrates and proteins are processed by the stomach relatively quickly, but fats take longer.
5. You Can Survive Without A Stomach
Your digestive system can operate without the stomach. Healthcare providers may recommend a total gastrectomy as a treatment for patients with stomach cancer.
In this operation, surgeons remove the entire stomach before connecting the esophagus to the intestines. They may create a stomach substitute by folding over some intestines to facilitate more effective digestion.
6. Your Stomach Is Very Muscular
The stomach is composed of three muscle layers that help perform its function. The first layer moves and contracts to churn the food and stomach acid together. The second layer controls the pyloric sphincter mentioned earlier. Lastly, the third layer moves the chyme towards the small intestine.
7. Anxiety Can Cause Stomach Issues
It may not be obvious, but your emotional state can affect your stomach and the rest of the gastrointestinal tract. Studies have shown that stress and anxiety may cause irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
An upset stomach due to anxiety can have the same symptoms as one due to other causes. That makes it challenging to diagnose. A visit to a GI specialist may help you get to the bottom of it.
The Best GI Specialist In California
Your stomach is an amazing and vital part of your body. It performs a significant function in keeping you alive and healthy. Thus, you should take care of it. If you are experiencing GI problems like indigestion or constipation, don’t hesitate to come to inSite Digestive Health Center! Our board-certified gastroenterologists have provided patients with accurate diagnoses and effective treatments for decades.