Large Intestine Overview: Parts, Function, Diagram & More

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Gain a comprehensive understanding of the large intestine through our detailed overview, encompassing its parts, functions, illustrative diagrams, and other key details.

Digestion is like the body’s way of turning complicated food into simpler forms that our blood can soak up and carry everywhere. This whole digestion thing not only gives us energy but also helps our cells do their job in keeping us alive. Picture it as a long tube called the alimentary canal, starting from the mouth and going all the way down to the large intestine. It’s basically a food journey through our body!

Size and Length of Large Intestine

This part of our body is known as the large intestine because it is wider than the small intestine, although it is considerably shorter.

The human large intestine, also known as the colon, has an average length of 5 feet (1.5 meters) in adults. However, it’s important to remember that individual variations are quite common, and the actual length can range from:

  • 4 feet (1.2 meters) to 6 feet (1.8 meters) for males
  • 3.5 feet (1.1 meters) to 5.5 feet (1.7 meters) for females

The large intestine is around 5 feet long, while the small intestine is much longer, measuring approximately 21 feet. The final 6 inches or so of the large intestine are referred to as the rectum and the anal canal.

Learn More About Small Intestine

Large Intestine Parts

It is a combination of the cecum, colon, rectum, and anal canal. The colon is the largest portion of the large intestine. It is divided into five sections:

  • Ascending
  • Transverse
  • Descending
  • Sigmoid
  • Rectum
Large Intestine Parts Name
Large Intestine Parts Name (Photo Credit: manhattangastroenterology)

Egested Waste

The rectum plays the role of the final holding place for waste in our body. After the small intestine has done its job with the undigested and unabsorbed food, it passes on to the large intestine. Here, the large intestine absorbs all the water from the remaining food, turning it into a kind of semi-solid substance. This semi-solid food takes a pit stop in the rectum for a while before being expelled from the body as feces. This whole process of getting rid of waste is what we call egestion or defecation. It’s basically the body’s way of saying goodbye to stuff it doesn’t need!

The function of the Large Intestine

The large intestine, also known as the colon, is a vital part of your digestive system. It’s about 5 feet long and 6 inches wide, and it’s located in your abdomen. The large intestine has several important functions, including:

  • Absorption of water and electrolytes: The large intestine absorbs about 90% of the water and electrolytes that are not absorbed in the small intestine. This helps to solidify stool and prevent dehydration.
  • Formation of stool: The large intestine mixes undigested food with mucus and bacteria to form stool.
  • Storage of fecal matter: The large intestine stores stool until it is ready to be eliminated.
  • Production of vitamins: The bacteria in the large intestine produce some vitamins, such as vitamin K and biotin.
  • Protection against harmful bacteria: The bacteria in the large intestine help to keep harmful bacteria in check.

The large intestine is an important part of your digestive system, and it plays a role in many bodily functions. It’s important to keep your large intestine healthy by eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and staying hydrated.

Also Read: 8 Key Differences between Small Intestine and Large Intestine

Can You Live Without Your Large Intestine?

Yes, you can survive without your large intestine. It might sound surprising, but it’s true. The large intestine mainly focuses on absorbing water and electrolytes to make stool concentrated. While it helps with bowel movements, it doesn’t play a huge role in metabolism. People can lead perfectly normal lives without it.

To Know more about electrolytes read this Healthline Article on electrolytes 

The large intestine guides waste to the rectum, which is then expelled during a bowel movement. However, sometimes, the large intestine can develop issues like diverticulitis, cancer, or benign polyps, which are often discovered during a colonoscopy. Additionally, the appendix, part of the colon, might need to be removed if it becomes inflamed.

In the case of these diseases, the whole large intestine might need to be removed. When that happens, it’s replaced with a pouch made from the small intestine and stitched to the anus.

Frequently Asked Questions on Large intestine

Q1. What is the cause of flatulence?

Passing gas, or flatulence, happens when we swallow air or eat foods that are hard to digest. For instance, foods like beans contain raffinose, which bacteria in our intestines break down, leading to the release of gas and causing flatulence. It’s just a natural part of how our bodies process certain foods!

Q2. What are the causes of colorectal cancer?

Eating a diet low in fiber and high in fat, leading a sedentary lifestyle, and indulging in alcohol and smoking are all factors connected to colorectal cancer. These habits can contribute to the development of this type of cancer.

Q3. What is the appendix?

The appendix is a small, vestigial organ attached to the large intestine. When it gets inflamed, a condition called appendicitis, the only solution is to remove the appendix.

Q4. How long is the large intestine?

The human large intestine, also known as the colon, has an average length of 5 feet (1.5 meters) in adults.

Q5. Which substance is absorbed in the large intestine?

The large intestine absorbs mainly water, electrolytes, and some vitamins while forming and storing the stool.

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As a professional blogger and passionate educator, I am driven by a deep-seated desire to share knowledge and empower others. With years of experience in the field, I am committed to providing valuable insights and guidance to aspiring learners. My passion lies in helping individuals discover their potential and achieve their goals. I am also a firm believer in the power of motivation and strive to inspire others to pursue their dreams with unwavering determination.

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