Digestive System Facts: The human body is a network of different organ systems that each performs their function in an organized manner.
There are different organ systems in the human body such as the skeletal system, the muscular system, the nervous system, the lymphatic system, the urinary system, the reproductive system, the endocrine system, the cardiovascular or circulatory system, the respiratory system, the immune system, and the digestive system.
The human digestive system, in particular, is fascinating and extends over a long stretch in the human body. It serves as a route for the ingestion, digestion, breaks down and assimilation and absorption of food and water, and removal of waste products from the body.
The digestive system is a network of different organs that perform different functions for the digestion and assimilation of food. It begins in the oral cavity where food particles are broken down by the action of the salivary glands.
The food particles then move down the esophagus after which they are subjected to the action of different enzymes secreted by a series of organs and organ systems such as the stomach, liver, pancreas, small intestine, and the large intestine.
Finally, once the food particles are broken down completely, nutrients are absorbed in the intestine, and the waste products are removed from the body.
Table of Contents
- Top 25 Digestive System Facts
- 1. 9 major organs in digestion.
- 2. A person produces 32 ounces of saliva every day.
- 3. Food takes 7 seconds to travel in the esophagus.
- 4. Gut-brain axis regulates the digestive system.
- 5. Small intestine can stretch up to 23 feet.
- 6. Stomach produces hydrochloric acid to aid in digestion.
- 7. Stomach does not do most of the digestion.
- 8. Gut hosts over 400 bacterial species for digestion.
- 9. Digestive track is 29 feet long.
- 10. Digestive enzymes regulate the food temperature.
- 11. Surface area of the small intestine is about 250 sq. meters.
- 12. New mucus layer in stomach lining renews every 2 weeks.
- 13. Digestion takes around 2 to 6 hours.
- 14. Digestion can work against gravity.
- 15. The most common digestive issue is bloating.
- 16. Stomach makes about 3 liters of Gastric Juices.
- 17. Stomach rumbling makes Borborygmi.
- 18. Fat content takes 6 hours to digest whereas carbs take 2 hours.
- 19. Improper digestion leads to constipation.
- 20. Stress can cause peptic ulcers.
- 21. The most important organ for digestion is Liver.
- 22. Epiglottis keeps food out of the air tract.
- 23. Gallbladder stores bile to aid in digestion.
- 24. Fiber is the essential dietary nutrient.
- 25. Water plays a vital role in digestion.
Top 25 Digestive System Facts
To understand more about the human body, here are 25 interesting digestive system facts:
1. 9 major organs in digestion.
The digestion process is a very complex process where several organs come into play.
- Each organ has a specific role in the digestion process.
- The digestive system organs include mouth & throat (collectively known as Pharynx), esophagus (or Oesophagus), Stomach, Pancreas, Liver, Gallbladder, Small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, and ileum), Large intestine (colon, appendix, and rectum) and the anus.
2. A person produces 32 ounces of saliva every day.
On an average, a person produces around 32 ounces of saliva per day.
- Saliva is produced by the salivary glands which are present in the oral cavity.
- Saliva contains salivary enzymes called amylase that help break down food particles.
- There are two different pairs of salivary glands present in the oral cavity – the parotid glands that are located in the inside of the cheeks, and the submandibular glands that are located on the floor of the mouth or the oral cavity.
3. Food takes 7 seconds to travel in the esophagus.
Food after ingestion takes around 7 seconds to travel down the length of the esophagus in wave live movements called peristalsis.
- The esophagus, also known as the food pipe is lined with smooth muscles that undergo the process of peristalsis.
- Peristalsis is the wave-like contractions of the muscles of the esophagus that pushes the food through it.
- The esophagus is around 8 inches long, and due to the wave-like contractions, it takes food only 7 seconds to travel down the tube.
4. Gut-brain axis regulates the digestive system.
An essential regulatory system of the digestive system is the gut-brain axis which regulates how food is digested by the digestive system.
- The brain is the center of all regulatory control. It controls the digestive system via the gut-brain axis and alters the rate of metabolism and digestion in conditions such as stress.
- When the stomach is full and distended, the nerve fibers in the lining of the stomach walls send out signals to the brain thereby giving a feeling of fullness. The opposite occurs when the stomach is empty.
5. Small intestine can stretch up to 23 feet.
The small intestine stretches out to around 22-23 feet whereas the large intestine is only four feet long.
- The large and small intestine, both have distinct roles to play.
- The small intestine is primarily involved with the uptake and assimilating of food, whereas the large intestine is involved in the intake and absorption of water.
6. Stomach produces hydrochloric acid to aid in digestion.
The stomach produces hydrochloric acid (HCI) to aid in digestion.
- The stomach lining is made of smooth muscle and epithelial cells that contain cells known as parietal cells.
- These cells secrete HCL or hydrochloric acid and other enzymes that aid in digestion.
- An imbalance in the stomach acids can cause bloating, burping, nausea, or acid reflux.
7. Stomach does not do most of the digestion.
Did you know that the stomach does not do most of the digestion? Let’s explore more.
- Even though most of the food is broken down in the stomach, it is not the site of most of the digestive process.
- Most of the digestion is carried out in the small intestine where absorption and assimilation take place.
- The small intestine secretes a variety of enzymes for digestion and has finger-like projections called villi which help in absorption.
8. Gut hosts over 400 bacterial species for digestion.
The Average human being has over 400 bacterial species in the gut.
- The bacteria present in the gut create a microflora that is beneficial and protective to the human gut.
- On taking antibiotics, this microflora is depleted, and thus causes the side effect of gastrointestinal issues.
- E.coli is one of the most common bacterial species present in the gut microflora, an overgrowth of which can cause gastroenteritis.
9. Digestive track is 29 feet long.
The entire digestive tract is around 29 feet long.
- The digestive tract begins at the oral cavity, followed by the esophagus, the stomach, duodenum, small intestine, large intestine, colon, and rectum.
- The entire length of the digestive system spans the entire length from the oral cavity to the rectum.
10. Digestive enzymes regulate the food temperature.
Food is cooled or warmed in the oral cavity to suit the body temperature.
- The normal body temperature is around 37 degrees Celsius (or) 98.4 degrees Farenheits. The food which is ingested is cooled or warmed to the body temperature in order for it to be more suitable for digestion.
- The Digestive enzymes of the body function at the body temperature, therefore, ingested food needs to be brought to that temperature in order to provide the optimum conditions for the digestive process.
11. Surface area of the small intestine is about 250 sq. meters.
The total surface area of the small intestine in the human body is enormous!
- The small intestine is about 7 meters long and an inch in diameter. The surface area of the small intestine is about 250 sq meters.
- This arrangement is because the lining of the small intestine has folds within which there are finger-like projections called villi and microvilli.
- Villi are present in these intestinal crypts which increase the surface area of the small intestine fit for absorption of nutrients from ingested and broken-down food.
12. New mucus layer in stomach lining renews every 2 weeks.
Every two weeks the stomach lining produces new mucus as a protective layer.
- The parietal cells in the stomach produce hydrochloric acid, which aids in the breakdown of food.
- The production and secretion of this acid in high amounts can cause damage to the inner lining of the stomach.
- In order to protect the stomach lining from damage, the stomach renews its mucus lining every two weeks.
13. Digestion takes around 2 to 6 hours.
The digestive process takes around 2-6 hours.
- The process of digesting and emptying the content from the stomach to the intestines takes about 2-6 hours.
- This repeated process explains why we feel hungry at almost regular intervals.
14. Digestion can work against gravity.
The digestive process does not need gravity!
- Ingested food is pushed down the esophagus by a series of wave-like contractions.
- This process is known as peristalsis, and it helps in getting the ingested food to the stomach and the other organs from the stomach.
- Due to this, an individual’s food will be digested even if upside down!.
15. The most common digestive issue is bloating.
One of the most common symptoms related to the digestive system is bloating.
- Bloating effects approximately 36% of the human population and is a common occurrence after ingestion of a full meal.
- The stomach can hold around 4 liters of food content and can bloat around four times of the average size following the ingestion of a large meal.
- Due to this, the abdominal diameter seems to vary by approximately 12 cm in a day.
16. Stomach makes about 3 liters of Gastric Juices.
The stomach produces around 3 liters (5 pints) of gastric juices on a daily basis.
- The stomach produces a mix of enzymes and acids in order to aid in the digestive process.
- Different cells present in the lining of the stomach secrete a variety of enzymes that work on different types of food particles and help break them down into a liquid form.
- The liquefied food is then squirted into small intestine one teaspoon at a time.
17. Stomach rumbling makes Borborygmi.
Stomach rumbling is called Borborygmi, and it does not happen only when we are hungry.
- Stomach rumbling occurs due to the peristaltic movements in the gut due to normal digestion of food and fluids.
- These sounds occur when the stomach has contents but is louder when the stomach is empty as there is nothing to cloak the sound.
- When the stomach is emptying its contents into the intestines, it sends a signal to the brain. The brain, In turn, responds by activating the digestive muscles to initiate contractions to ensure no food particles remain in the stomach.
18. Fat content takes 6 hours to digest whereas carbs take 2 hours.
The human body takes longer to digest a meal depending on its content.
- The human body takes about 6 hours to digest a meal that is high in fat content, whereas it takes only 2 hours to digest a meal that is high in carbohydrate content.
- Therefore, it is essential that we follow the intake of a balanced diet to ensure a healthy lifestyle and weight and prevent digestive issues.
19. Improper digestion leads to constipation.
Constipation is another common symptom of improper digestion in the human body.
- Constipation is a fairly common symptom or a side effect of improper digestive functioning.
- It occurs in approximately 20% of the population and is more common in women than in men.
- As human beings age, the digestive process slows down. In particular, the final part of the digestive system, where the undigested or excreted waste moves from the colon to the exterior takes longer than expected; it results in constipation.
20. Stress can cause peptic ulcers.
Most people think peptic ulcers are caused by the food we eat.
- Most people tend to think that ulcers in the stomach or intestine is caused by eating high spice food or can also be caused due to stress.
- However, peptic ulcers are in reality caused by a bacterium known as Helicobacter Pylori.
21. The most important organ for digestion is Liver.
The most significant internal organ of the digestive system is the Liver.
- The liver is a part of the digestive system and has a variety of functions.
- The liver performs over 500 different functions ranging from secreting bile for digestion, to detoxification and breakdown of drug and drug products.
22. Epiglottis keeps food out of the air tract.
The role of the epiglottis in digestion is to keep food out of the air tract.
- The epiglottis is a thin flap-like structure that covers the windpipe.
- While swallowing, it keeps the windpipe covered thereby preventing any food particles from entering the lungs.
- Choking occurs when food or other particles enter the windpipe and block the airway.
23. Gallbladder stores bile to aid in digestion.
The gallbladder is responsible for storing bile, that is used during the digestive process.
- The liver secretes bile into the bile duct, which is then stored in the gallbladder.
- The gallbladder then secretes bile into the intestines which aid in digestion.
- Bile contains bile salts and bile pigments which help in the emulsification of fats and aid in absorption.
24. Fiber is the essential dietary nutrient.
Fiber is an essential dietary nutrient for the human body.
- Once the entire digestion process is complete, whatever is left over is called the fiber.
- Many foods are high in fiber, and this is good for the human body.
- Fiber present in the undigested content that is to be excreted helps in softening the stool and prevents constipation.
25. Water plays a vital role in digestion.
Water is the essence of life and helps in the proper functioning of the digestive system.
- Drinking adequate amounts of water is necessary to keep the digestive system in proper order.
- A quart of fluid every day is received by the large intestine, from the small intestine, where stools are formed.
- An adequate amount of intake of water ensures proper stool formation and helps prevent dehydration and constipation.
Overall, the digestive system comprises of different organ and organ systems that work together to ensure the proper intake, digestion, breakdown, absorption, and assimilation of food, and excretion of waste and waste products from the body.
These systems are all interdependent and interconnected and are controlled by signals from the brain and spinal cord.
Apart from this, to keep the digestive system in the proper functioning order, it is essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating right, intake of a good diet and adequate amounts of water on a daily basis.
- “Your Digestive System & How it Works | NIDDK”. Accessed October 10, 2018. Link.
- “Acid Reflux Disease Symptoms, Causes, Tests, and Treatments”. Accessed October 10, 2018. Link.
- “11 Surprising Facts About the Digestive System”. Accessed October 10, 2018. Link.
- Amazing Facts Regarding the Human Digestive System. Accessed October 10, 2018. Link.
- Fascinating Facts About Your Digestive System. Accessed October 10, 2018. Link.