When we eat, the food first passes through the oesophagus and the stomach, before ending up in the small intestine. It is here that most of the digestion occurs.
The small intestine
The small intestine measures between 4 and 7 metres in length and it is thanks to the small villi of the intestinal wall that the nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream to provide the body with the energy it needs. After passage through the small intestine, any food mass that has not been absorbed reaches the large intestine.
The large intestine
The large intestine, also called the colon, has a length of approximately 2 metres. It receives the waste material that the body does not need in a liquid form and its task is to make it solid and absorb the water.
The residues no longer have any nutritional value for the body and are subsequently routed to the rectum, before being naturally expelled by the anus.
The journey of the food through the digestive tract, or gastrointestinal motility, happens by means of specific muscle contractions, called peristalsis.
For people with intestinal discomfort, it is possible that the muscle contractions of the intestine follow each other too fast or too slow, thus causing intestinal dysfunction.
The permeability of the intestinal wall
A hypersensitivity of the intestinal wall is often observed among people with intestinal discomfort: the intestinal wall reacts excessively to the stimuli. The whole creates an abnormal permeability of the intestinal wall, leading to persistent complaints and rendering them chronic.