UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
Home
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Webcasts
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
What happens to the small and large intestine for at least two days?
Answer 1:

The digestive system is a complex series of organs that processes food. In order to use the food we eat, our body has to break the food down into smaller molecules that it can process. Digestion occurs in the gastrointestinal tract the 20 to 30 foot long tube extending from your mouth to your anus, plus a few other organs (like the liver and pancreas) that produce or store digestive chemicals.Whatever you eat flows through this system, but until it is absorbed through the intestinal tract, the nutrients in food are physically outside of your body.This is because the gastrointestinal tract functions like an internal skin and provides a barrier between whatever you ingest from the outside (external)world and your internal bloodstream and cells. Part of the digestion process,is the selective transport of nutrients through the cell wall that lines your intestinal tract. Once transported across the intestinal barrier to the inside of your body, these nutrients can enter your bloodstream and circulate to maintain organ function, support your need for energy, and provide for growth and repair of new cells and tissues. The food will spend more time in the large intestine than anywhere else during digestion.

On average, food travels through the stomach in 1/2 to two hours, continues through the small intestine over the next two to six hours, and spends six to 72 hours in your large intestine before final removal by defecation.

The small intestine is a long, narrow, coiled tube extending from the stomach to the large intestine. This is the place where most digestion and absorption of food takes place. The small intestine of a human can be as long as six to eight meters long, depending on age and size of being. So much length can be compacted into so little space because of the nature of the small intestine; it is coiled and takes up less space, while maintaining it's enormous surface area.

The large intestine at the end of the human intestine and is wider but shorter than the small intestine. It measures approximately 1.5 meters in length and its primary function is to absorb water and electrolytes that have already passed unabsorbed through the small intestine.

For a diagram of the gastrointestinal track click here:
intestinal track


Click
Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2015 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use