Intestines


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The intestines are a long continuous hollow tube, starting at the end of your stomach and ending at your rectum. In total the entire tube can be as long as 8.5m or 28 feet, with its surface area being enough to cover a tennis court! The intestines, even though continuous, are split up into many different parts, due to the different jobs they do and how they look under a microscope. Roughly there are 2 parts, the small and large intestines, or small and large bowel as it is sometimes known. The small bowel starts at the end of the stomach and continues for approximately 7m or 23 feet, until it meets the start of the large intestine in the lower right hand side of your abdomen. The small intestine has 3 parts – the duodenum, jejunum and ileum, all of which help to digest and absorb food that has been mixed with acid in your stomach. Once the digested food has made its way through the small intestine it enters the large intestine through a special opening called the ileocaecal valve. Once in the large intestine, all the water that is left in the digested food is reabsorbed along its 1.5m length. The large intestine, just like its small counterpart, is split into different parts however these are anatomical and not functional separations. Movement of food through your intestinal system is via a special type of muscle contraction in the wall of the intestines known as peristalsis. This is in effect a wave of contraction that helps to force the food along the entire length of your gastro-intestinal tract.