Digestive Parts - Your Guts

Small Intestine, Large Intestine, Appendix

Digestion is HUGE. Your body does it from the moment you eat breakfast
in the morning and all night long after dinner! Basically, once food or drink hits
your mouth you start to digest; enzymes start to break the food down, and
nutrients start to make their way into your bloodstream.

Partially digested food from your stomach flows into your small intestine
where it travels through a twisty, windy tube into your large intestine (think water
park). Waste from food can get really backed up when you experience
constipation - when you can’t poop. It can also feel just awful if food moves
through your intestines too quickly. Ever had diarrhea?

  • Small Intestine Connected to your stomach, the small intestine wraps around and around and back and forth. The small intestine is responsible for moving partly digested food to your large intestine. If you rub your stomach, right around the belly button, you are actually rubbing your small intestine. And, when you have a “tummy” ache just below your belly button, it’s actually your small intestine at work. It is looooong! About twenty-two feet!

Sidebar: It can take one to two days for food to pass from your
stomach to the very end of the road, your potty.

  • Large Intestine It may seem a little weird to call it large because it’s actually much, much shorter than the small intestine. It’s bigger around, and it frames the small intestine, heading up the right side of your abdomen, crossing your body just under your stomach, and dropping back down the left side of your abdomen, eventually heading toward your rectum and anus. Doesn’t the large intestine look like a picture frame, holding the small intestine in place?

Extra credit: Have you ever heard people talking about the “colon?” The large intestine is also known as the colon. Here’s what a lot of grownups don’t even know, and now you will. As you look down at your belly the right side of your large intestine, going up is called the ascending colon; the part that goes across is called the transverse colon, and the part that comes back down is called the descending colon. Up, over, and down. Very simple!

  • Appendix Your appendix is a funny little organ that hangs off the entrance to the large intestine, so on your right side. (Remember the ascending colon in your extra credit?) A million years ago, the appendix acted like a “pocket” to hold things that couldn’t easily be digested – like tree bark. These days your appendix holds on to stuff like fingernails and gum. Eventually, they do get broken down, but it takes awhile. You may know someone who has had an appendectomy. That means a doctor removed it.