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Surprising facts about your gut

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How long does it take food to reach your stomach?

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How long does it take food to reach your stomach?

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Once you've chewed your food and swallowed, it passes into your oesophagus (gullet). This narrow, muscular tube is about 25-35 cm (10-14 inches) long and connects to the stomach. Food is squeezed through the oesophagus by a process called peristalsis. It takes around 6 seconds for food to reach the stomach.

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Digestion happens in the stomach.

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Digestion happens in the stomach.

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Some digestion happens in the stomach, but that's only part of the process. It actually starts in the mouth where food is chewed and lubricated by saliva, which also adds amylase, an enzyme that starts the digestion process whilst you chew. In the stomach, food is churned in an acid bath, before being squirted in teaspoon-size portions into the small intestine. It’s here that the acidic food solution (called 'chyme') is neutralised, before digestive enzymes from the pancreas and bile from the gallbladder are added, helping you fully digest your meal and then absorb it into the body. Microbes in the colon (large intestine) then deal with what’s left, before the waste passes through and out of the body.

Which of these is the most common cause of food poisoning?

Which of these is the most common cause of food poisoning?

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Campylobacter causes acute diarrhoea, usually triggered by contaminated food, water or unpasteurised milk. Public Health England cites it as the most common cause of food poisoning in England and Wales. Illness can be serious, especially if someone has a weakened immune system. It's also associated with arthritis, brain and nerve issues. If you think you've been exposed to the campylobacter bacteria seek medical advice. You'll probably recover on your own without treatment, but in some cases, antibiotics may be needed.

What fibre-rich food causes less wind?

What fibre-rich food causes less wind?

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  • Correct Answer:

Fibre rich foods may contain 'soluble' fibre or ‘insoluble’ fibre, depending on whether the fibre type dissolves in water or not. Insoluble fibres (such as cellulose fibres) are difficult for bowel bacteria to ferment, and so don't produce as much wind as soluble fibres. Foods rich in soluble fibre include oats, peas, some fruits and especially beans, well known for their ability to produce wind. Insoluble fibres, found in wheat bran and wholegrain cereals, pass through the intestines almost unchanged, producing less wind. Most fibre-rich foods contain a mixture of these dietary fibres.

Drinking coffee can cause your stomach to:

Drinking coffee can cause your stomach to:

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Your morning coffee doesn't just jolt you awake, it can also jump start your digestive system and send you off to the loo. Several studies have tried to explain why this happens to some people. Scientists believe it may not be the caffeine, because even decaffeinated coffee has the same effect. It seems that substances in coffee stimulate the distant intestine to start moving things along more quickly, creating that sudden urge to go to the toilet.

If you have heartburn, which of the following may improve symptoms?

If you have heartburn, which of the following may improve symptoms?

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Heartburn occurs when the stomach's contents flow backwards into the oesophagus. Gastric acid inflames the lower oesophagus causing pain. Pregnancy hormones increase the risk of heartburn. Ways to reduce acid reflux include sleeping with the head of the bed raised (to keep acid in the stomach), choosing several small meals rather than three large meals, and losing weight if necessary. Talk to your GP about treatment options if these measures don’t ease your symptoms.

Which of these foods is digested the slowest?

Which of these foods is digested the slowest?

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  • Correct Answer:

Simple carbs, like fruit juice and table sugar, move quickly from your digestive system into your bloodstream. Proteins in meat and cheese, and the fat content of cheese, also slow emptying of food from the stomach, so helping you feel fuller for longer. Some fibre-rich foods, like raw vegetables, are digested far more slowly. In real life, the speed at which your meal empties from your stomach depends on the types and amount of food eaten at one sitting.

Which of these is not linked to stomach ulcers?

Which of these is not linked to stomach ulcers?

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  • Correct Answer:

Fizzy drinks might irritate your stomach if you already have an ulcer, but there's no proof they actually cause ulcers. Ulcers are more commonly caused by infection from the bacteria, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). Other causes include use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin and ibuprofen. Lifestyle factors like stress, smoking or drinking are often associated with ulcers, but there’s no hard evidence to prove they actually cause ulcers. They may make existing symptoms worse though, and smoking may increase your risk of developing an ulcer. Excessive alcohol use increases the risk of a stomach ulcer bleeding.

What builds up in your gut and needs to be cleaned out?

What builds up in your gut and needs to be cleaned out?

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Detox diets and 'cleansing' colonics are popular, but claims they help digestion by ridding the body of toxins are not backed by scientific evidence. The bacteria in your gut have a job to do and work together with your digestive system to maintain a healthy, digestive balance. Waste and toxins pass out of the body naturally and don't need any help to do so. Trust your gut. It knows what it's doing.

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