Esophagus & Stomach

Esophagus & StomachEsophagus & Stomach

User's Manual
Amazing Facts
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A 25 to 30 cm (9.8 to 11.8 inches) long muscular tube that secretes mucus for lubrication and pushes food from the pharynx into the stomach, using peristalsis. (see above definition)


A muscular enzyme secreting sac that acts as a food blender and digestive reservoir. While the stomach stores the food, smooth involuntary muscle surrounding the stomach churns and mixes up the food while gastric juices (see below) partially digest and dissolve the food. The stomach can hold large quantities of food and is able to expand up to 50 times its normal size! Your stomach's secretions are collectively known as gastric juices. They consist of the following ingredients:

  • Hydrochloric acid (HCL): a strong acid that kills some bacteria and other microbes, and breaks down most food except for fat by disrupting the connective tissue holding the nutrients of the food together.
  • Pepsin: a mixture of several enzymes that digest protein after it has been freed from the food thanks to HCL.

With these tools the stomach reduces the food into molecular fragments of proteins, polysaccharides and droplets of fat, none of which can be absorbed as of yet.

User's Manual

Chew your food well before swallowing it, and eat at a reasonable pace. If you eat too fast you could overload your esophagus and possibly swallow something sharp like a potato chip without chewing it well enough.

It is possible to rupture your esophagus by gorging yourself with food. Some people suffering from eating disorders such as bulimia may starve themselves. Then when their hunger reaches a certain level, they'll gorge themselves with food and subsequently gag themselves in order to throw up. After a period of little activity (during starvation or extreme dieting), gorging and vomiting exerts severe stress on the esophagus and can result in a rupture. If you suspect you have an eating disorder, get help now so it doesn't develop into something more serious.

Stomach ulcers
5 million Americans deal with ulcers of either the stomach or duodenum every year. 10% of Americans will deal with them at some point in their lives. Ulcers are caused by a bacterial infection. The bacteria along with natural enzymes from the stomach eat away at the protective lining in the stomach, causing an open sore on the stomach interior. Stress increases stomach acidity and thus vulnerability to ulcers. Taking aspirin, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs over a long period of time can increase stomach acidity and ulcer vulnerability. Steroids, genetics and alcohol can also increase your risk. Smoking not only increases your risk, but also prevents the healing of ulcers once they form! Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach can help prevent digestive problems. Blacks and Latinos are twice as likely to develop ulcers than are Whites.

Stomach cancer is rare in America but more common in Japan, Chile and Austria. About 8 in 100,000 Americans will get stomach cancer. To avoid any cancer of the digestive system, it helps to eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, rice, pasta and beans with limited amounts of meat products. Broccoli, onions, garlic and pineapple contain sulfur compounds, which help prevent stomach cancer. Foods that are smoked, barbecued, pickled or salt-cured should be kept to a minimum. Alcohol and tobacco should be avoided. Antioxidants found in orange or yellow vegetables are a known way to prevent any kind of cancer. Vitamin C wouldn't hurt either.

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Amazing Facts

  • It takes 4 to 8 seconds for food to travel to the stomach through the esophagus.
  • The stomach can stretch to 50 times its empty size.
  • The stomach can hold about 4.5 quarts.
  • Each minute about 1/2 million damaged lining cells are replaced in the stomach.
  • Vomiting can empty the stomach along with the first foot of intestines.
  • Water molecules in the gut can move at 1500 miles/hour when smooth muscle contracts during a process known as peristalsis.
  • It takes 4 to 8 seconds for food to travel to the stomach.
  • The stomach produces 3 liters of secretions daily.

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Glands involved in digestion