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How Does the Large Intestine work

The large intestine is that last part of your digestive system before the waste material ends up in your bowels. They are approximately 1.5 meters (5 ft) long and consist of four parts, the caecum, the appendix, the colon and the rectum. The large intestine in found in your abdominal cavity. Despite the fact that it is shorter than the small intestine it is called the large intestine because of its width. The large intestine is primarily made up of smooth muscle.

How Does the Large Intestine work?

The job of the large intestine is to absorb excess water back into the body, absorb particular vitamins, process undigested matter such as fiber and store waste before it is eliminated. Each part of the large intestine has a specific task in the process of digestion.

The Caecum
This is the first part of the large intestine and it is shaped like a small pouch. It is located in your right, lower abdomen. It connects the small intestine to the large intestine. The processed food from the small intestine flows into the caecum where it is stored to be passed into the colon. The liquid mixture in the caecum usually consists of fiber, water, some vitamins and some mineral and salts.

The Appendix
The appendix is a small blind ended tube attached to the caecum. It is not known to perform any specific function in human digestion, but new research has shown that it harbors certain bacteria that are used in the colon to help digest food. It is also believed to hold immune cells such as lymphoid cells.

The Colon
The colon is shaped like a large inverted “u” and it is the largest part of the large intestine. The processed mixture passed from the caecum into the colon. The colon has four sections, the ascending colon, the transverse colon, the descending colon and the sigmoid colon. Within the colon the liquid mixture that is passed from the caecum mixes with mucus and bacteria and starts to form feces. The bacteria break down some of the fiber to help maintain themselves and the cells along the wall of the colon. The walls of the colon absorb the water, vitamins and minerals from the liquid mixture. The muscular contractions of the large intestine move the feces along until it is expelled into the rectum at the end of the sigmoid colon.

The Rectum
The main job of the rectum is to store the feces prior to them being eliminated via the anus.

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