Understanding Your Digestive System

Published date: January 12, 2016 | Modified date: January 19, 2017

how the digestive system worksDr. Stephen Wangen of the IBS Treatment Center explains the basic functions of the digestive system and how to easily detect digestive problems.

Your gastrointestinal tract is a long tube. This tube starts at your mouth and ends at your anus. It is a highly specialized organ that is designed to do three very important things:

  • Convert food into something your body can use for nourishment;
  • Protect you from invading bacteria, viruses, and toxins; and dispose of a variety of waste products (poop). It is truly amazing that these three vital functions are performed by one structure.
  • Dispose of a variety of waste products (poop).

It is truly amazing that these three vital functions are performed by one structure.

In order to do all of these things, this tube has developed some very special features. For one, it contains 80% of your immune system, which defends you from invaders coming down the pipe.

Equally important, this tube contains a complex ecosystem of over 100 trillion good bacteria that are not only critical to proper digestive function but are also a vital part of the defense system. And finally, this tube is so specialized that it has its own nervous system, often called a second brain.

When it’s all working well, normal digestion is an unremarkable experience. You typically have one to two bowel movement per day. They aren’t urgent, they don’t cause any discomfort, there is very little noticeable gas production, and they only take about 5 minutes.

The stool is well formed, easy to pass, you don’t need to wipe much, and at the end of the bowel movement you feel like you are fully “through.” Pooping is a natural experience and should be comfortable and – dare we say it? – even bring an enjoyable feeling of release.

If this isn’t happening, then you have a problem and deserve better digestion. At the IBS Treatment Center we are uniquely qualified for and experienced in assessing these functions and treating these problems so that you can start to feel better and get your life back. It’s not about giving you a fancy diagnosis, it’s about solving your problem.

The IBS specialists at our clinic will determine the cause of your IBS and focus treatment on the underlying issue so you can be IBS-free for life. Contact the IBS Treatment Center in Seattle or Santa Monica today – we’ll help you take back control of your life.