5 Fascinating, Terrifying Things About the Human Stomach

Image credit: Umm.edu
Right there at about the center-left of that torso of yours is a pretty amazing chamber known as the stomach. If you’re like most Americans, you probably have a love-hate relationship with your stomach, in that you love when it’s full of awesome food, and hate when it’s empty and rumbling away at you. Beyond that, most folks don’t pay their tummies much mind. We’re guessing you’d think about the human stomach a whole lot more if you knew a little more about it.

5 You Don’t Even Need Stomach to Live

Perhaps the most striking thing there is to know about the human stomach is that, when push comes to shove, you don’t even need it to live. While gastric bypass surgery has become common these days for treating the morbidly obese, its name is slightly misleading, as it usually involves dividing the stomach into different regions, rather than fully “bypassing it.” In extreme cases, though, usually do to injury or illness and not mere massive obesity, doctors can connect the esophagus directly to the small intestine, totally removing the human stomach.

4 Causes of Loud Stomach Noises

We have all been embarrassed by a loudly growling stomach, but most of us have never wondered what exactly caused it? The loud, guttural (heh) noises that emanate from a belly are just part of digestion. Your stomach muscles clench and release when there is food in your belly to help move it around and get it worked into a sort of slurry that’s known, for some damn reason, as “chyme.” When empty, the belly and intestines sometimes grumble to help simulate digestion and let you know that there is, in fact, a shortage of nutrients to be digested, thus it’s time to eat!

3 Your Stomach Has Evolved an Ingenious Defense

To keep from being “eaten up” by its own corrosive stomach acid, your stomach has evolved an ingenious defense: Even as it is busily producing all that acid, your stomach is also actively producing acid’s counterpart, a “base.” The stomach is lined with specialized cells called “epithelials” which produce a bicarbonate-rich goo that coats the interior of the stomach. So even as the stomach produces acid to fill itself, it produces a shield against its own acid to line itself.

2 Stomach Acid is Corrosive

Stomach acid is corrosive enough to eat through metal, bone and more. It is, in fact, biologically produced hydrochloric acid – essentially the same stuff used in many factories to strip rust and other imperfections off steel and iron. And your tummy makes up to 3 liters of acid every single day!

1 The Average Adult’s Stomach Has a Full Capacity of Nearly 4 Liters

Hold up two standard 2-liter bottles of soda and picture your poor little belly being that distended and full of food … and then try to keep any food you’ve recently ingested down where it belongs. That mass capacity would stretch your stomach much larger than its usual size, however, and is not only unhealthy, but also totally gross.