Here’s how it works in a nutshell – from top to bottom (literally).
Step 1: Gearing up for grub. Before you eat, your tummy is already working to get prepped. Ever heard a rumbling noise when you’re hungry? That’s your tummy getting ready for your meal by releasing digestive juices.
Step 2: Mushing in the mouth. As soon as you start chewing, not only are your teeth crushing up food into small bits, but your saliva is also breaking down your food into sugars. The scientific name for chewing is mastication.
Step 3: From swallowing to the stomach. Swallowing sends your chewed up food down to your acidic stomach. Here, those stomach muscles work hard to grind the food until it turns into a thick liquid. This liquid is called chyme – pronounced “kyme”.
Step 4: Inside your intestines. This is where your liver and pancreas also join the party, balancing the acidity by bringing in bile and other chemicals. Now the nutrients from your food get absorbed into the bloodstream and travel around the body to where they’re needed most.
Step 5: Coming into the colon. Your colon is home to billions of tiny living things called microbes (including bacteria, yeast and ev
en viruses). Any unabsorbed bits of food, like fibre, now make their way here to be broken down by these powerful microbes. In turn, they produce chemicals that are linked to a whole host of health benefits. They also produce gas, which is why we fart!
Step 6: Producing your poop. Any liquid left over is absorbed by your colon and our poop is formed. This rests up in the rectum (aka your back passage) until nature calls and it’s toilet time.
So there you have it. A whistle-stop tour of your tummy from top to bottom.