5 Facts About Your Digestive System
May 1, 2023
“Happiness: a good bank account, a good cook, and a good digestion,” says Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
OK, let’s face it, not everyone can be rich or “own” a good cook (unless one walks down the aisle with a chef.) The good news is we CAN control our diet and improve our lifestyle – for good digestion.
Our digestive system performs in a choreographed biologic symphony – breaking down nutrients into tiny parts small enough for the body to absorb and use for energy, growth, and cell repair. It is a unique system, and there is more to it. Here are 5 fun facts to explore about the digestive system.
1. It is longer than you think
Our gastrointestinal (GI) tract is about 5 times longer than our height. The 9-meter-long internal organ consists of 6 parts: mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and anus, arranged in the most compact fashion possible within a human body.
2. Immune system powerhouse
70% of the immune system is located within the gut. Immune cells in the gut interact with the diverse array of bacteria and fungi that live in the GI tract. For example, a high-fiber diet will trigger these microorganisms to release metabolic by-products that support antibody-producing immune cells.
3. The Earth Element & Digestive Health
The spleen, with its partner organ, the stomach, represents the Earth Element within us. Therefore, an imbalance of the spleen and stomach may cause digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndromes &, etc.
4. Gut microbiota – Your true BFF
100 trillion bacteria live inside our digestive system – 10x greater than the number of cells in the human body. They’re collectively known as the gut microbiota, which break down toxic food compounds and synthesize vitamins and amino acids to keep us healthy.
5. Light at the end of the tunnel
The average bowel transit time is about 30 to 40 hours. Therefore, an individual with constipation may have fewer than 3 bowel movements per week; while diarrhea can cause someone to experience more than 3 movements of loose stools daily.
- Lee, Y. Y., Erdogan, A., & Rao, S. S. (2014). How to assess regional and whole gut transit time with wireless motility capsule. Journal of neurogastroenterology and motility, 20(2), 265–270. https://doi.org/10.5056/jnm.2014.20.2.265