What role does water play in digestion

The colon - digestion and immune defense

Food that we chew in the mouth first travels through the esophagus to the stomach. There the stomach acid clogs it up and turns it into a half-digested, thick pulp. Prepared in this way, it reaches the intestinal tract. With the help of digestive enzymes, the small intestine breaks down the intestinal contents into micro-components and transfers the nutrients into the bloodstream. The large intestine, also called the colon, eventually takes in the undigested remains.

More than a remainder

The large intestine, about one and a half meters long, connects the exit of the small intestine with the anus. It consists of a five-layer cover, the innermost layer of which forms the intestinal mucosa. This is where the so-called seam cells are located, which absorb water from the leftovers. With their help, the large intestine smuggles a good one and a half liters of water back into our body every day. Next to the seam cells there are goblet cells that continuously produce mucus in order to make the thickened food residues slippery.

The intestinal flora, a complex ecosystem made up of billions of intestinal bacteria, provides additional support. The professional world usually also speaks of the microbiome. Its microorganisms break down substances that are difficult to digest and help turn leftovers into stool. In addition, the intestinal flora plays an important role in the immune system and prevents pathogens from spreading in the intestine. A good 80 percent of the body's own defense cells are therefore in the intestines.

The large intestine pushes the almost nutrient-free, thickened food residues towards the exit, i.e. towards the anus. What we excrete is still 75 percent water. Fats, cellulose and tissue particles form the solid components of the stool. In addition, more than half of the dry matter make up intestinal bacteria, which are constantly forming anew in the intestine.

The abdominal brain

Millions of nerve cells, more than in the spine, are arranged around the large intestine and control the complicated digestive process. This second brain in the stomach ensures that the complicated process of digestion runs smoothly. The nerves also make our abdominal area sensitive to environmental influences. Stress and anxiety can cause constipation, cramps, and diarrhea, as can overeating. On the other hand, relaxation, joy and light food lead to a good gut feeling.