The human intestine fulfills a series of functions and is not only used to absorb nutrients. The organ, which is between five and seven meters long, connects to the stomach and coils through the abdomen.
A healthy intestinal flora protects against numerous diseases or vice versa: an altered intestinal flora can be the cause of various diseases. The intestine has its own immune system, the so-called lymphoid tissue associated with the intestine (GALT).
It is the most important instrument in the defense against pathogens, it is the intestinal mucosa and protects against ingested pathogens through food. It is not for nothing that about 70 to 80 percent of the body’s immune cells are active in the intestine.
How is the human intestine structured?
The intestine is divided into two parts: the small intestine and the large intestine.
The longest part of the intestine, more than five meters, is the small intestine. It is divided into the duodenum, the jejunum, and, finally, the ileum. The end of the ileum is located in the lower right abdomen, where the small intestine opens to the large intestine.
When viewed from the front, the approximately 1.5-meter long colon is wrapped around the intestinal tract like a crown. The colon owes its name to its largest diameter.
It is easily recognizable by its humpbacked surface and consists of the following sections: in the lower right abdomen below the mouth of the small intestine is the so-called appendix (vermicular appendix or cecal appendix) and is connected to the blind.
The ileocecal valve closes the small intestine and prevents the contents of the colon from returning. The ascending part of the large intestine (ascending colon) begins above the confluence of the small intestine and continues to the right intestine, which is located under the liver.
From there, the transverse colon extends horizontally to the left bowel (left colon flexion) under the spleen. The descending colon goes from the upper abdomen (descending colon) on the left side to the lower abdomen.
This is followed by the rectum and forms the intestinal outlet.
How does digestion work?
First, the food porridge containing saliva and gastric acid reaches the small intestine from the stomach, where a large part of the digestion takes place. Here the nutrients are extracted from the porridge, absorbed by the intestinal wall, and passed into the blood.
Undigested food residues pass into the large intestine, where the remaining liquid is extracted from the chyme. This also eliminates electrolytes and supplies them to the body.
Non-digestible food components, such as fiber, serve as food for bacteria that live in the large intestine. Fermentation processes begin during decomposition.
Follow a healthy diet
A healthy diet keeps you fit and helps you protect yourself against diseases. But what exactly is healthy for the intestine and for people in general?
For the digestive process to work, people depend on enough fluids and fiber. Most people eat mixed foods, which means they eat animal and plant products to meet their nutritional needs.
Vegetarians and vegans should be careful with some nutrients, such as iron and vitamin B12, which humans usually eat with fish and meat, with the help of plant-based products or specially enriched with microorganisms.
Tips for a healthy intestinal flora
Certain foods can destroy the intestinal flora or intestinal mucosa, which is also known as altered intestinal flora or “leaky gut. ” If the intestinal flora is disturbed, the bacterial balance is unbalanced.
The desired bacteria are outnumbered while the unwanted ones bloom. The use of probiotics can help. In the leaky gut, the intestinal barrier is altered, the so-called tight junctions.
The tight junctions must open so that nutrients can pass into the blood. However, certain substances can cause prolonged opening, which can cause unwanted substances to escape.
As a result, the immune system has to function at full speed. Therefore, many autoimmune diseases are increasingly associated with nutrition. In addition to medications such as antibiotics, substances such as alcohol and excess sugar can alter intestinal health.
Industrially processed foods, fast food, and excessive wheat consumption apparently harm intestinal health. Several nutritional trends are trying to counteract this unhealthy development in its own way, including the so-called Paleo Diet or the Ketogenic Diet.
All these nutritional trends are trying to eliminate supposedly harmful substances from the menu.