What is Stomach, Stomach Functions And Facts
Stomach is an important part of our digestive system which receives food from the esophagus. It is found at the left side in the upper abdomen. An average individual's stomach measures about 12 inches in length and has a width of 6 inches.Itis a J-shaped hollow organ which can hold up to one liter of food on average. However, the capacity of stomach varies from one individual to another. This muscular organ can also expand to accommodate a greater volume of food. Therefore, our stomach possesses elasticity and can change its size according to an organism’s requirements.
When food enters the stomach, enzymes are released to help in the digestion of food. The pH of the stomach is acidic as it is the optimum pH required for the activity of these enzymes. The stomach muscles contract and relax in order to physically mix the food well with the released enzymes.
Food stays in the stomach for around two to five hours. After undergoing the process of digestion during this time, food leaves the stomach to enter the small intestine. The passage of food into and out of the stomach is controlled by two muscular valves. Food enters the stomach from the esophagus through the lower esophageal sphincter. On the other hand, the passage of food from the stomach into the small intestine takes place through the pyloric sphincter.
Stomach carries out the physical and chemical digestion of food. When the stomach muscles contract and relax periodically, food is physically digested. On the other hand, the chemical digestion of food is aided by enzymes secreted by glands found in the walls of stomach.
However, not all classes of food are digested in the stomach. It is the protein component of our diet which undergoes digestion in the stomach. The enzyme secreted by stomach glands is called pepsin which is the specific enzyme required for protein digestion. Pepsin requires an acidic medium for its optimum activity. Therefore, stomach also secrets Hydrochloric acid in order to maintain an acidic environment.
The release of Hydrochloric acid also serves another important function in the stomach: killing pathogens. Thus, apart from carrying out digestion, the stomach is also responsible for killing bacteria which enter our gastrointestinal tract through food.
Interesting Stomach Facts
Here is some interesting trivia about our stomach.
- The stomach has to produce mucus in order to prevent the stomach enzymes from digesting the walls of the organ itself.
- Contrary to the general belief, stomach is not where all the digestion of food takes place. In fact, it is the small intestine where most of the food is digested.
- The pH of the stomach is 1.2, strongly acidic!
- People can survive without a stomach if it has to be removed due to some disease.
- The stomach can expand to hold as much as 4 liters of food at a time.
- Most of the stomach gas is due to the food we swallow while we eat our food.
Stomach diseases can be prevented by taking a well-balanced diet and taking a good care of hygiene. Regular exercise can also keep our stomach in a healthy condition.