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Why does food stay so long in the stomach before it is being allowed to pass gradually into the small intestine?
Question Date: 2003-04-27
Answer 1:

I am just eating a bagel while I am thinking of how to answer your question. I hope it will help me.

Before food gets into your stomach, the teeth are crushing it down to a smaller size, not only so that you can swallow it better but also to add some saliva so it can be swallowed.

Our stomach is like a short-term storage which allows us to eat a big meal fast and then deal with it over a longer period of time.

Once the food enters the stomach, chemicals and enzymes (proteins that help to digest the food by breaking it down into smaller molecules) are secreted from cells in the wall of the stomach. The chemicals are mainly hydrochloric acid that helps activate the enzymes and kills microorganisms such as bacteria. At the same time the food gets liquefied through vigorous contractions of the stomach muscles. This mixes and grinds the food as well. The liquefaction of the food is very important before the food can be passed on to the intestines for further processing.

It is interesting to know that actually our brain starts this whole process. When we see or smell food the brain tells the stomach to "wake up" and get prepared for food. The stomach then begins to start with low motor activity and secretion of acid and enzymes. It is probably a good idea once you "wake up" your stomach to provide it with food, otherwise it might start grumbling.

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