The Stomach

How big is your stomach?

The human stomach is about 12 in. (30.5 cm) long and is 6 in. (15.2 cm) wide at its widest point. Its capacity is about 1 qt (0.94 liters) in the adult While a baby’s stomach capacity may be only around 30millilitre.

The stomach has 3 main functions:

• temporary storage for food, which passes from the esophagus to the stomach where it is held for 2 hours or longer

• mixing and breakdown of food by contraction and relaxation of the muscle layers in the stomach

• digestion of food

Defence system

The stomach plays a role in defending your body from pathogens. The acidity in the human stomach can kill certain pathogens and neutralize some toxins. The human stomach is subdivided into four regions: the fundus, an expanded area curving up above the cardiac opening (the opening from the stomach into the esophagus); the body, or intermediate region, the central and largest portion; the antrum, the lowermost, somewhat funnel-shaped portion of the stomach; and the a narrowing where the stomach joins the small intestine.

It’s important to keep drinking, especially water. It encourages the passage of waste through your digestive system and helps soften your waste at the other end. Fibre acts like a sponge, absorbing water. Without fluid, the fibre cannot do its job and you’ll get consequences. A good way to make sure you’re getting enough fluids is to drink a glass of water with every meal.

Stomach problems

In some people, stress slows down digestion, causing bloating, pain and constipation, while in others it speeds it up, causing diarrhoea and frequent trips to the loo. Some people lose their appetite completely A solution is to avoid eating when you’re feeling very anxious, stressed or unhappy.

• Do not rush your food. Take the time to eat slowly. Try putting your fork down between bites and chew each mouthful well.

• Do not overeat. Reduce the size of your portions at mealtimes, or try eating 4 to 5 small meals instead of 3 large ones.

• Eat regularly and try not to skip meals.

• Avoid eating a big meal just before you go to bed. Eat your last meal at least 2 to 3 hours before lying down.

• Make sure you have plenty of water to drink.

Second brain

Researchers have identified a powerful connection between the gut and the brain. Like the brain, the gut is full of nerves. It contains the largest area of nerves outside the brain with the digestive tract and the brain sharing many of the same nerve connections. Psychosocial factors influence the actual physiology of the gut, as well as symptoms. In other words, stress (or depression or other psychological factors) can affect movement and contractions of the GI tract.

The human gut is lined with more than 100 million nerve cells—it’s practically a brain unto itself. And indeed, the gut actually talks to the brain, releasing hormones into the bloodstream that, over the course of about 10 minutes, tell us how hungry.