What Does the Stomach Do?
The stomach is a sack-like organ with strong thick muscular walls. In addition to holding the food, it is also a mixer and a grinder. The stomach secretes acid and powerful enzymes that continue the process of breaking down the food. Yes, you heard me right. The stomach does secrete hydrochloric acid. Does this acid not burn the stomach? Yes, it would have. If it is not, it’s wonderful – Slimy mucus. This mucus protects the stomach lining from being attacked by these acids that are used during digestion. Any unwanted bacteria are also killed off due to their highly acidic medium that is created. The food is then ground and mixed continuously by the contraction of the stomach’s muscular walls. The stomach will take anywhere between forty minutes to a few hours to break down the food.
The average human stomach can comfortably hold about a liter of food. The stomach has elastic nature. This means that it can expand to store more than its initial capacity. That is why, the tummy expand when you had a full-fledged meal, but then comes back to normal after it is all got digested. Our stomach can go from holding 50 milliliters when empty, up to 4 liters when full. But you usually stop out at around 1 to 1.5 liters — the point at which the most people are comfortably satisfied. Once you consume more than this, you really start stretching the stomach wall, which causes discomfort that would last a few hours. Keep consistently over stopping yourself and over time your belly will adapt growing to accommodate more and more food and liquid. If you eat 2 liters meals regularly, you might feel miserable for the first few times. But after several months, your stomach muscles will eventually stretch out, meaning you will need even more food to feel full. This is exactly like what happens when you use a rubber band to bind rather a large pile of papers. If you remove the band after a couple of days, you will notice that it has changed its shape and expanded. Right? This is what happened to the stomach as well. If you always overload your stomach, it will tend to remain that big leading to a nice round potbelly.
One thing that you really need to note is that the brain may not immediately register that your stomach is full and this may lead to overeating. To counter this, you should probably eat slowly and not gobble off the food in front of you. Since this will increase your chewing time, your food will also get digested properly. So the role of the stomach is to make sure the bonus which came in from the esophagus is finely ground in a way that the small intestine can absorbs the molecules. The stomach mixes and churns the food with the water and makes it into a slurry. We call this slurry – Chyme. Now the food is ready to go to the next lap of its journey which is the small intestine. Before we move into the small intestine, let me introduce you to the liver and the gallbladder and the pancreas. These are called accessory organs are they aid in the process of digestion, but are not a part of your alimentary canal.