The duodenum is a relatively unknown part of your body that plays a critical role in the digestion process. It is located in your lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It is the next stage into which food digested by the stomach passes… the first of three sections of the small intestine. The duodenum is “C” shaped, encircling the head of the pancreas.
The average length of the small intestine is an amazing 23 feet long. The duodenum is a hollow jointed tube about 10 – 15 inches long connecting the stomach to the jejunum, the next section of the small intestine. Despite being the shortest part of the small intestine, it is where most of your chemical digestion takes place.
Once the stomach has added its gastric juices and digestive enzymes, creating chyme, the contents are passed on to the duodenum. Once received, the duodenum signals the liver and the gallbladder to deliver bile and the pancreas to produce pancreatic enzymes. And so begins the process for the extraction of nutrients from your food.
The only real medical issue to affect the duodenum is a duodenal ulcer… a type of peptic ulcer. This is caused by the walls of the lining of the duodenum being eroded by the stomach acids that pass through it on a regular basis.
It’s truly a miracle to me, our bodies. Think about the orchestration of so many things that occur without thought in something as small as the duodenum. Regulating the flow of chyme out of the stomach. Instructing the liver, the gallbladder, and the pancreas when to secrete their juices essential to the continuation of the digestion process. Starting the extraction of the nutrients so essential to life itself.
And that’s your amazing duodenum.