Steam project objective – “Know the order of organ function and path of food during digestion” and how it can relate to the Bristol stool scale through constipation.

      The digestive system is an essential function of the body. Your stool and digestive system can give insight into your gut and overall body health. Not only does the digestive system break down the food, but it also absorbs nutrients from the food. (This can also lead to other issues later discussed). Starting with the digestion process, the mouth breaks up the food by chewing, tearing, and shredding (Sensoy, 2020). Your saliva helps dissolve, moisten, and soften the food. Our saliva contains sodium, potassium, calcium, bicarbonate, mucin, and enzymes to help aid in the first step of digestion (Sensoy, 2020). Next, we have the throat, also knowns as the pharynx, which connects to the esophagus as food travels down. The esophagus extends to the esophagus sphincter, leading to the stomach. The stomach regulates ph, temperature, and enzymes to break down food. Digestion has a physical and chemical process, each serving essential roles. The physical process promotes contraction, while the chemical process produces acids and pepsin, effectively softening foods (Sensoy, 2020). Lateral to the stomach, the lesser and greater curvature fit on either side of the body of the stomach. The body of the stomach is lined with muscles known as longitudinal, circular, and oblique. The smooth muscle helps the stomach contract and relax, aiding in grinding, pushing, and mixing of the contents (Sensoy, 2020). Moving down the digestive tract, we have the pyloric canal and pyloric sphincter. The pyloric sphincter is much like the esophagus sphincter, being controlled by the nervous system, although the pyloric requires a thicker muscle to hold back waste, they both prevent backflow. Distal to the stomach awaits the small and large intestines. They play significant roles in digestion and positionally constipation. The small intestine is the longer intestine with food being processed and nutrients being absorbed. The pylorus and the colon connect the small intestine to the stomach. The main features of the small intestine are the duodenum, about 25 cm long, the jejunum 200 cm long, and the ileum 300 cm long, which joins the cecum at the ileocecal valve. Most of these secretions are controlled by nerves and hormones. In the duodenum, the secretions are minimal in the other parts of the small intestine (Sensoy, 2020). The large intestine is shorter but also more expansive than the small intestine (wrapping around the small intestine). The large intestine absorbs water into the body and ejects thick waste. An anaerobic environment with microorganisms produces enzymes that break down fibers left over from the small intestine(Sensoy, 2020). Constipation happens in the large intestine and can happen as we get older. Age-related constipation can be related to decreased ability of enteric smooth muscles to contract and relax. Intestinal microbiota can change with age and can be associated with inflammatory bowel disease (J Neurogastroenterol Motil 2023). Two ends of the “scale” can happen in the large intestine and can be recorded and reviewed as the Bristol stool scale. Constipation is split into roughly three groups. Normal transit which is the most common and known as functional. Slow transit and anorectal dysfunction (J Neurogastroenterol Motil 2023) can be age-related due to physical changes and medication. You can gauge the level of constipation with the Bristol scale. 1-2 is the slower transit, while 6-7 is rapid transit, also known as diarrhea. While digestion starts with the mouth, it ends with what we can refer to as the Bristol stool scale, and it can tell us a lot about what happens in our digestive system along the way. 

Sensoy I. A review on the food digestion in the digestive tract and the used in vitro models. Curr Res Food Sci. 2021 Apr 14;4:308-319. doi: 10.1016/j.crfs.2021.04.004. PMID: 34027433; PMCID: PMC8134715.

Dumic I, Nordin T, Jecmenica M, Stojkovic Lalosevic M, Milosavljevic T, Milovanovic T. Gastrointestinal Tract Disorders in Older Age. Can J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2019 Jan 17;2019:6757524. doi: 10.1155/2019/6757524. PMID: 30792972; PMCID: PMC6354172.

Cho YS, Lee YJ, Shin JE, Jung HK, Park SY, Kang SJ, Song KH, Kim JW, Lim HC, Park HS, Kim SJ, Cha RR, Bang KB, Bang CS, Yim SK, Ryoo SB, Kye BH, Ji WB, Choi M, Sung IK, Choi SC; Korean Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility. 2022 Seoul Consensus on Clinical Practice Guidelines for Functional Constipation. J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2023 Jul 30;29(3):271-305. doi: 10.5056/jnm23066. PMID: 37417257; PMCID: PMC10334201.

One Comment

  1. This STEAM project objective walks you through the path and function of the organs during the digestion of food and discusses the Bristol Stool Scale. They walk you through the mechanical and chemical process that food takes to provide the body with nutrients. This starts at the mouth mechanically breaking the food up as well additional aid from saliva in a chemical breakdown, food then travels through the pharynx and esophagus from there it makes a stop at the stomach where additional mechanical and chemical breaking down of the food continues. It then moves on into the small and large intestine. The small intestine is the longer of the two intestines and consists of three parts, the duodenum, the jejunum, and the ileum. The small intestine is where nutrients from the food is absorbed, and the large intestine absorbs the water into the body. Constipation is a symptom that can happen due to a variety of reasons, it happens in the large intestine, and to gauge the level of the constipation you can use the Bristol Stool Scale. Their project is made from food and is a visual representation of the Bristol Stool Scale. They use different food items to represent the different levels on the Bristol Stool Scale from one all the way down to seven. There are three stages of stool period from slow transit one and two on the Bristol Stool Scale, and rapid transit six and seven on the stool scale as well as a normal transit.

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