How the human digestive system works

The intestine extends from the stomach to the anus and is approximately 8.5 meters in length. Its enormous length is important because the body must extract vital nutrients and water from the ingested food during its passage. The digestive process takes time and ideally should not be interfered with so as to maintain the healthy balance of intestinal flora and not to disturb the absorption of nutrients.

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    Mouth and oesophagus

    The first step in the digestive process takes place in the mouth. The teeth chew up the food into smaller pieces, which are then thoroughly mixed with saliva to form a mixture called bolus (chewed food). This action breaks down carbohydrates already present in the food into smaller constituents. After swallowing, the bolus passes along the oesophagus (approx. 25-30 cm long) into the stomach.

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    Digestion in the stomach

    In the next step, the chewed up food is mixed with gastric acid in the stomach and broken down even more until it becomes a liquid and is called chyme (digested food). At the same time most pathogens and bacteria that may have been ingested along with the food are destroyed by the gastric acid. Special enzymes are released which start the digestion of proteins in the stomach.

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    Digestion in the small intestine

    It is the small intestine where the absorption of nutrients takes place. The first part of the small intestine is the duodenum (23 to 28 cm long). Here, vital constituents in the mixture, now called the chyme are further broken down into the minutest particles – until now only few individual molecules remain. Fats are converted into fatty acids, proteins become amino acids and carbohydrates turn into glucose.

    The mucous membrane of the small intestine allows nutrients to pass into the blood stream, which distributes them to the various organs. What remains of the bolus now only contains some indigestible material and liquid.

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    Digestion in the large intestine

    The last part of the digestive process takes place in the large intestine where the undigested food remains for up to 24 hours. Here, any vital liquid still present is absorbed by the body and any remaining electrolytes are reabsorbed. The indigestible residue is passed on to the rectum as a firm stool.

    The large intestine is protected by probiotic bacteria that reduce the growth of harmful bacteria. Maintaining the natural balance in the large intestine is important for your health and well-being.

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    Excretion in the rectum

    In normal circumstances, water absorption reduces the volume of the content of the intestine. The stool remains in the rectum until its volume reaches a critical point, which activates receptors in the intestinal tract and triggers an evacuation reflex.

    Constipation occurs when too much liquid has been extracted from the content of the intestine. The stool is too dry and hard, which makes normal excretion difficult.

    MICROLAX® Enema acts locally in the rectum. It softens a hardened stool, increases its volume and creates the urge to evacuate, generally within 30 minutes after use. Because of this, MICROLAX® Enema has no negative impact on the digestive tract and the natural intestinal flora.


How to deal with acute constipation

MICROLAX® acts locally within 30 minutes

Symptoms of constipation

What are the causes of constipation?