The large intestine (or colon) is the last part of the digestive system in vertebrate animals. Its function is to absorb water from the remaining indigestible food matter, and then to pass useless waste material from the body. This article is primarily about the human gut, though the information about its processes are directly applicable to most mammals.
The large intestine consists of the cecum, appendix, colon, rectum, and anal canal. It starts in the right iliac region of the pelvis, just at or below the right waist, where it is joined to the bottom end of the small intestine. From here it continues up the abdomen, then across the width of the abdominal cavity, and then it turns down, continuing to its endpoint at the anus.
Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. The substance is ingested by an organism and assimilated by the organism's cells in an effort to produce energy, maintain life, or stimulate growth.
Historically, people secured food through two methods: hunting and gathering, and agriculture. Today, most of the food energy consumed by the world population is supplied by the food industry.
Food preservation usually involves preventing the growth of bacteria, fungi (such as yeasts), and other micro-organisms (although some methods work by introducing benign bacteria or fungi to the food), as well as retarding the oxidation of fats that cause rancidity. Food preservation can also include processes that inhibit visual deterioration, such as the enzymatic browning reaction in apples after they are cut, which can occur during food preparation.
Many processes designed to preserve food will involve a number of food preservation methods. Preserving fruit by turning it into jam, for example, involves boiling (to reduce the fruit’s moisture content and to kill bacteria, yeasts, etc.), sugaring (to prevent their re-growth) and sealing within an airtight jar (to prevent recontamination). There are many traditional methods of preserving food that limit the energy inputs and reduce carbon footprint.
Food storage is both a traditional domestic skill and is important industrially. Food is stored by almost every human society and by many animals. Storing of food has several main purposes:
The safe storage of food for home use should strictly adhere to guidelines set out by reliable sources, such as the United States Department of Agriculture. These guidelines have been thoroughly researched by scientists to determine the best methods for reducing the real threat of food poisoning from unsafe food storage. It is also important to maintain proper kitchen hygiene, to reduce risks of bacteria or virus growth and food poisoning. The common food poisoning illnesses include Listeriosis, Mycotoxicosis, Salmonellosis, E. coli, Staphylococcal food poisoning and Botulism. There are many other organisms that can also cause food poisoning.
The spoilage of meat occurs, if the meat is untreated, in a matter of hours or days and results in the meat becoming unappetizing, poisonous or infectious. Spoilage is caused by the practically unavoidable infection and subsequent decomposition of meat by bacteria and fungi, which are borne by the animal itself, by the people handling the meat, and by their implements. Meat can be kept edible for a much longer time – though not indefinitely – if proper hygiene is observed during production and processing, and if appropriate food safety, food preservation and food storage procedures are applied.
The organisms spoiling meat may infect the animal either while still alive ("endogenous disease") or may contaminate the meat after its slaughter ("exogenous disease"). There are numerous diseases that humans may contract from endogenously infected meat, such as anthrax, bovine tuberculosis, brucellosis, salmonellosis, listeriosis, trichinosis or taeniasis.
Digestion is the mechanical and chemical breakdown of food into smaller components that are more easily absorbed into a blood stream, for instance. Digestion is a form of catabolism: a breakdown of large food molecules to smaller ones.
In the human digestive system, food enters the mouth and mechanical digestion of the food starts by the action of mastication, a form of mechanical digestion, and the wetting contact of saliva. Saliva, a liquid secreted by the salivary glands, contains salivary amylase, an enzyme which starts the digestion of starch in the food. After undergoing mastication and starch digestion, the food will be in the form of a small, round slurry mass called a bolus. It will then travel down the esophagus and into the stomach by the action of peristalsis. Gastric juice in the stomach starts protein digestion. Gastric juice mainly contains hydrochloric acid and pepsin. As these two chemicals may damage the stomach wall, mucus is secreted by the stomach, providing a slimy layer that acts as a shield against the damaging effects of the chemicals. At the same time protein digestion is occurring, mechanical mixing occurs by peristalsis, which is waves of muscular contractions that move along the stomach wall. This allows the mass of food to further mix with the digestive enzymes.