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Journey through the Canal
Journey Through the Canal PDF Print E-mail

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Many of us know the basic facts that food and beverages enter our mouths and come out…well you know where, but it’s what happens between those two points, and what it does for your body that so many of us have never considered.  It is amazing that the journey it takes is like a roller coaster ride that many couldn’t handle. 

Because diverticulitis is a condition which affects the colon aka large intestines, many make the mistake of concentrating on this small area only and not on the big picture. 

This article is an important prerequisite to helping all the diverticulitis sufferers out there to understand the nature and causes of diverticular disease.  How natural treatment measures are so important to adopt if a lasting relief is desired.  This will help you to achieve a working knowledge of the complex organs and systems which comprise the digestive tract. 

So your lesson today will begin with a guided tour down the alimentary canal, please keep all arms and legs inside the cart for the ride.  It is very surprising when we first learn that from mouth to rectum food travels over 30ft (9m) on a up, down, left, right, twisty over loop adventure, for a time period of 36 to 48 hours, did I mention even the best of roller coaster riders would throw in the towel.  It’s truly amazing that our bodies are so intricately created to hold such a complex system just inside our torso area.

Entry begins of course in the mouth when the tongue and teeth combine actions to break down and partially liquefy solid food so that it can now pass easily into the esophagus gullet, then transversing the chest cavity it enters the abdomen through an opening in the muscular diaphragm, which forms the floor of the thorax.  It is now that the softened food has the opportunity to enter the stomach for any where from 3 – 6 hours, all the while moving around in slow, wave like contractions of the muscular walls. (This explanations the giggling of a 4 year old who hears the funny noises in your stomach as they fall asleep laying on it.)  Back to the stomach, during this churning process the food mass is blending thoroughly with the digestive juices secreted by glands in the membranes which line the stomach and further reduce it to oatmeal like consistency. Once this stage is finished there is a valve (pyloric) at the lower end of the stomach which opens and the food moves on into the duodenum, for us non medical ones that would basically be the first 12 inches (30cm) of the small intestine.

It is at this point in the journey that a small offshoot from the liver through the gall bladder brings in bile, the pancreas adds in digestive juices, the glands in the intestine lining then adds additional secretions and beneficial bacteria (which are normal inhabitants of the healthy intestine).  All this is added to the food to create a totally liquefied product. 

This is now the time that the longest part of the journey begins, traversing about 22ft (600 – 700 cm) through all the closely packed coils of the small intestine which in itself is about 2 inches in diameter at the upper end and tapers to about 1 inch at the joining of the colon.  It is during this stage of digestion, that chemistry takes over.  The intestines extracts all the nutrients out and sorts them into various categories, then passes them on to the bloodstream to be dispersed out to the tissues.  The undesirable leftovers are moved into the colon (which is about 4 inches in diameter) via a guarded valve that opens only to permit this waste material then closes to prevent reflux.

The colons job at this point is to extract a great deal of the water from the liquid rejected waste and transfer it to the circulatory system via the blood vessels in the walls of the colon which is a roughly a 4 ½ ft. voyage up, across, then down again, to make this a smooth journey the colon walls are lined with a layer of mucous membranes.  Leaving a residue of waste material the must exit somewhere, which leads us to the final passage into the rectum, through the anus to the waste disposal site.

Well there it is in a simplified version.  This incredible machine that we call the human body is so complex and amazing, that is can take a simple meal and recharge both brain and body is mind boggling.  So stay on tract for a healthy diet and exercise program, then sit back and let your alimentary canal do the rest.

 
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