What Does Your Stomach Do?

When you eat, food from your mouth goes down a tube called the esophagus and into your stomach, where it is stored temporarily, then later digested. As the food arrives, the stomach wall starts its glands working. One type of gland gives off a mucus that lubricates the food. Other glands give off acids which kill any bacteria in the food; while still others give off special chemicals, called enzymes, to break down the food into tiny particles.

The stomach’s strong muscles break down all this food and all these chemicals into a liquid. This breaking down is done in peristaltic waves wavy movements by the muscles. These waves work on a regular schedule every two seconds. The waves then squeeze that liquid toward the other end your stomach by contractions of the stomach muscles. A special ring-like muscle guards that bottom opening, first allowing only the liquid to pass through, then allowing some of the pulpy food to enter your small intestines, where digestion continues.

Because the stomach is a muscular organ, it can change its shape depending on the amount of food in it. However, it has been found that tall, thin people usually have long, narrow stomachs, while short, stocky people have short, wide stomachs. Regardless of the shape, most adults’ stomachs hold about one quart of liquid and food.

Although the stomach is a useful organ, people can, and have lived without a stomach if it has been removed because of disease!