The stomach is a bean-shaped sack located on the left side of your upper abdomen. The food is passed from the oesophagus to the stomach. The food you consumed reaches to the end of the oesophagus and a muscular valve called the lower oesophagal sphincter(LES) opens before it enters the stomach. Your stomach serves as a temporary container for storing food and distributes it before it is moved to the intestine. Small intestine next to stomach is a long tube-like organ that extends to the colon (large intestine). The first part that is connected to the stomach is called the duodenum.
The stomach secretes hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes that break down the food. Ridges of muscle tissue called rugae line the stomach. The stomach muscles contract to mix the acid and enzymes with food to enhance digestion. The acid also helps to destroy harmful germs that may enter into the body with food and drink you consume. The acidic nature of acid might damage the stomach, so protects it from the damage, it secretes a sticky, neutralizing substance called mucous membrane that lines walls of the stomach. It also produces a substance essential for the body to absorb B12 vitamin.
The stomach is the largest part of your digestive system. Your stomach can nearly hold more than a quart of food at once. The stomach is designed to eat a large meal at once and can be digested slowly over time. It may take 4 to 6 hours or sometimes longer to digest the food. The more the fat content in the food you take, the longer it takes to digest the food.
Anatomy Of Stomach
The stomach is mainly divided into four main divisions such as cardia, fundus, body and pylorus.
- The cardia is next to stomach below the oesophagus. It contains a thin ring of muscle called cardiac sphincter, that helps to prevent the content in the stomach going back into the oesophagus.
- The fundus is a rounded portion lies to the left of the cardia & below the diaphragm.
- The body is the central and largest portion of the stomach where food is mixed with enzymes and starts to break down.
- The pylorus is the part that connects the stomach to the small intestine. It contains a thick ring of muscle called the pyloric sphincter, which acts as a valve to regulate the emptying of stomach contents into the duodenum. The sphincter prevents the contents of the duodenum to go back into the stomach.
The stomach is such a complicated structure as it performs a lot of functions. However, these functions are disturbed and lead to some serious diseases such as:
- Gastroesophageal reflux
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Gastric ulcer (stomach ulcer)
- Peptic ulcer disease
- Stomach cancer
- Celiac Disease
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS)
- Gastric varices
- Stomach bleeding
- Gastroparesis (delayed gastric emptying)