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Stomach


When we have food through our mouth, food
gets broken down in the mouth with the help of salivary enzymes present in the saliva.
These broken down food now gets stored in the stomach. So, food particles get stored
in the stomach so that it can be further digested, i.e., it can be further broken down for the
easy passage of the food molecules from the stomach to the small intestine. Now, there
are two structures which form the gateways of the stomach – the oesophageal sphincter
and the pyloric sphincter. When you are not eating, this oesophageal sphincter remains
closed, but when you are eating something, due to the alternate contraction and the relaxation
of this oesophagus, the oesophageal sphincter opens and the food passes into the stomach.
Now, while digestion, this pyloric sphincter remains closed and also large food particles
cannot pass out easily through this pyloric sphincter, but after the digestion takes place,
food particles are further broken down. So, those smaller particles can easily pass through
the pyloric sphincter. So, food molecules that we intake, digested in the stomach, i.e.,
it gets broken down into smaller and smaller particles. Now, unless the food molecules
become smaller, it cannot pass easily through the pyloric sphincter and go into the small
intestine. So, the digestive juices that are present in the stomach and helps in digestion
is acidic in nature and breaks the food and since it is a strong acid because of presence
of hydrochloric acid, it also can kill different microbes in the stomach. Now, HCl maintains
an acidic pH in the stomach. The stomach also releases an enzyme known as pepsinogen which
is an inactive enzyme. Now, another function of this HCl is to convert this inactive enzyme
into its active form. So, pepsinogen is the inactive enzyme. HCl converts this enzyme
into its active form which is known as Pepsin. Now, pepsin is a proteolytic enzyme, i.e.,
it can break the proteins in the stomach. Thus, digesting the proteins which were not
being able to get digested in the mouth. So, if a person is having chapati along with chicken,
the chapati which consists of carbohydrates can get easily digested in the mouth because
of the presence of salivary enzymes that can digest carbohydrates but these salivary enzymes
cannot digest the proteins in the meat. So, the undigested meat or the protein gets stored
in the stomach where it gets further digested. The pepsin acts on these proteins and breaks
it down to polypeptides and further into peptides and then it can move out of the stomach. Now,
there is another protein present in milk. It is known as casein. So, to digest this
milk protein, which is known as casein, stomach releases an enzyme known as the Rennin. Rennin
digests casein into Paracasein. So, these digestive juices break down the food particles.
So, food particles along with the digestive juices form a lubricated food, a moisten food
bowlers which is known as the chyme. The gastric juice contains HCl which is hydrochloric acid
and maintains an acidic pH in the stomach. It contains enzymes, such as pepsinogen and
rennin, and salts, which are colourless. So, this is the composition of gastric juice which
is secreted in the stomach and helps in the process of digestion. Now, the digestive juices
consist of HCl, which is a very strong acid. Now, why does this strong acid not burn holes
in the stomach? We have seen HCl in our chemistry labs. Our teachers often tell us to be very
careful with this acid because it can cause a lot of damage. It can cause holes in our
skin. But this same acid is present in our stomach but not creating holes or not creating
any damage. Why? This is because stomach secretes a slimy material known as mucus that forms
a layer over the stomach wall. Now, this mucus ensures that the HCl secreted in the stomach
does not come in direct contact with the stomach wall and cause damage to it. Now also see,
since the mucus has a slimy nature, it also lubricates food and allows easy passage of
food from the stomach to the intestine. Now, many of you might have heard about gastric
ulcers which cause immense pain in the stomach. Now, these gastric ulcers are formed because
of, because the HCl secreted in stomach causes damage to the stomach wall. Now, how does
this HCl come in direct contact with the stomach wall, even though there is presence of the
mucus layer in between? This happens when a person goes through a long phase of improper
timing of food. Now, when a person takes his proper meals at proper timings, then his body
gets conditioned over time to secrete the digestive or the gastric juices as well as
HCl to digest the food. But in this case, since his timings have changed, there is no
food in the stomach but since his body is already conditioned to secrete digestive juices
and HCl, the HCl directly acts on the mucus wall and burns it. Now, over a prolonged period
of time, this HCl burns whole on the mucus layer and finally comes in direct contact
with the stomach linings and causes damage to it. Now, gastric ulcers are often accompanied
by tremendous pain. So, I would always advice you that take food in small quantities or
small portions but take it at proper intervals of time.

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