Although digestion starts in your stomach, the small intestines are where nutrients make their move from your digestive tract into the bloodstream. Then they are shuffled off to your liver for further processing. And this is why certain small intestinal problems can result in inadequate nutritional uptake, a cause for malnutrition.
Your small intestine is about a twenty feet long tube, located between your stomach and large intestine. It’s a folded up organ consisting of three segments; duodenum, jejunum and ileum. The duodenum is the first stop for food released out of your stomach. In this portion of the small intestines pancreatic enzymes and bile are added to the mix. Enzymes assist to further breakdown food and bile neutralizes stomach acid.
As food moves along into your jejunum and ileum, it is fully broken down for the final leg of its digestive journey, absorption. Under healthy conditions, your small intestine villi absorbs these nutrients:
- amino acids from proteins
- glucose from carbohydrates
- fatty acids & cholesterol from fats
Small intestinal problems do occur, some even hampering small intestines’ nutrition absorbing action, or malabsorption. Health problems involving the small intestines include:
- celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
- intestinal cancer
- intestinal infections
- short bowel syndrome
- enzyme deficiency ~ lactose intolerance, other food intolerance
Treatment for small intestinal problems varies depending on its cause.