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Article: How Your Bowel Works

How Your Bowel Works - Novamed (Europe) ltd

How Your Bowel Works

It's one of the most fundamental human functions, but do you really know how your bowel works? We'll break it down in this blog post, so you can spend more time thinking about important things like what to eat for lunch.

The large intestine is a long tube that wraps around the small intestine and continues along the spine. As food moves through it, water is taken in and absorbed into blood plasma while plant material passes into the colon before being eliminated as waste. The faecal matter then enters this final stage of digestion, where it gets compressed into stool before being pushed out by muscle contractions. The process is described in more detail below.

The large intestine is made up of two parts: the ascending colon, which carries food from the small intestine into the large bowel, and then the transverse colon. The transverse colon lies horizontally across the abdomen. The descending colon branches off from it and descends vertically to eventually join with the sigmoid colon. This becomes very narrow as it merges with the rectum.
This is where faecal matter is formed before being expelled through the anus.

There are two other main parts of the large intestine: the cecum and the colon. The cecum is a small blind pouch that can be found on one side of the transverse colon. It is where bacteria ferment the sugars to produce methane, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide. This gaseous mix is carried upwards and later expelled through the anus or, in some people, through their mouth!

The inside wall of the large intestine contains glands called goblet cells which produce mucus to help protect against infection. These areas are subject to high pressure, which can cause damage to cells and get into blood vessels, causing inflammation.

The colon is the final part of this process. It consists of three main sections: ascending, transverse and descending. These sections vary in width and length depending on the individual, but the colon itself is around 8-12cm long.

What happens to food passing through our bowels?
Our large intestine and small intestine (called the ileum) take in enzymes (cellular substances) from our digestive systems. These enzymes break down carbohydrates, fats and proteins into smaller molecules that can be absorbed by blood vessels located in this area.

As food passes through, it enters a sphincter valve that controls its flow between the large intestine and small intestine. The valve is held open during digestion so that enzymes can enter the cells lining the large intestine. This allows for easier passage of waste matter by water and nutrients. The stools are formed by mixing all of these components together.

How do we know what is in our bowels?
The waste matter passes through the large intestine and leaves via the anus. A lot of this material ends up on toilet seats, sinks and other furniture surfaces because people do not always clean up once they have used the toilet or changed their clothes after bathing or after defecating in a bush.


The main ingredients of faecal matter include indigestible solids (cells, plant material etc.), water, dead cells (such as skin), bacteria, undigested food and digestive juices. What comes out of you is healthy because it contains beneficial bacteria that help aid your immune system.

The breakdown of matter in the bowel is slow to start with but speeds up towards the end of the process. There are three phases to this breakdown: mechanical / pressure/chemical /enzymatic.

Stool consists of 30-50% bacteria, 5-10% undigested food particles and 50-70% water. The stool is formed by mixing all the ingredients together.

What can you do to help?
What you eat for lunch is not only crucial for the nutritional content but also for the fibre content. The fibre keeps your bowels healthy by helping to prevent constipation and other harmful conditions. It also helps maintain normal bowel function by keeping bowel walls strong. It is essential to drink plenty of fluids because it keeps the waste material flowing out of your body more quickly.

You should take fibre supplements or make sure to drink enough water throughout the day.

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