How Long Is The Large Intestine (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 5 Feet (or 1.5 m long)

The alimentary canal is a long tube-like structure that extends from mouth to anus which means it has two openings that are mouth for eating and anal opening for excretory and reproductive purposes. This Alimentary canal consists of 7 main parts that are based on their anatomy and physiology are Mouth, Pharynx, Oesophagus, Stomach, Small intestine, Large intestine, Rectum, Anus. This canal is long diverse and coiled at certain regions in which the large intestine is also a coiled part of the Alimentary canal.

Though the Alimentary canal is a part of the digestive system is also a part of other functions which come under the categories of other systems like the Endocrine and the Excretory systems.

How Long Is The Large Intestine?

There is a myth that the small intestine is called small and the large intestine is called large due to their length but it’s a false statement and assumption. Even the length of the small intestine is greater than the larger intestine that is roughly 9-16 feet which is lengthier than the large intestine. Here the intestines are named small and large according to the diameter and the former has a smaller diameter and the latter has a larger diameter and broad.

The intestines fit in the abdomen and won’t be very interesting when some research operations said that according to their surveys they say that the average total intestines length is 26 ft and has a range of 21.9ft – 30.3ft. They say that the length of total intestines varies from person to person and the reason is quite unknown. When it comes to what are the parts of the large intestine it comprises five main parts that are Caecum, Colon, Rectum, Anal canal, and Anus.

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Parts of Large IntestineHow long
Caecum2 inches long
Colon63 inches long
Rectum1-1.6 inches long

Why The Large Intestine Is So Long?

To know the exact reason one has to know the physiology or in other words functioning of the large intestine. The small intestine is the region where all the food gets digested and the remaining undigested food is passed through the Ileocaecal valve to the large intestine and the prime function of the large intestine is to absorb water and salts from the digested food that helps in the recovery of water and important electrolytes like sodium and potassium ions.

After absorption of important mineral, the undigested food is passed to the rectum for storage, and before that, it is very important to acknowledge that there is a bacteria that ferments and absorb the nutrients from the digested food if remaining. From the above statements, it is clear that the digestion process needs a certain time in breaking down the food particles, and many more nutrients are absorbed, and if they are not coiled and lengthy enough all the necessary nutrients would get passed out body. When comes to another animal-like herbivore their intestines are 10 times longer than their body and in the case of humans, it’s not even more than 7times of body.

The reason is quite simple and one can also draw the relation between the type of food and the length of intestines. To make it clear herbivore eats plants that are rich in collagen and takes a lot of time to get it digested completely as it is a fibrous substance so it takes a lot of time to get digested and the intestines are very lengthy in herbivore. In the case of omnivores, the lengths are moderate and are short in carnivores as the protein that they get through the meat can easily get digested.

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Conclusion

Many sources consider only the first three parts as important and the Colon again consists of four parts are Ascending colon, Transverse colon, Descending colon, and Sigmoid colon. Among the three parts of the large intestine, the colon contributes to a major part of the large intestine in length. By diving into further understanding of the Anatomy and Physiology of intestines and other organs can help in getting acknowledged.

References:

  1. https://europepmc.org/article/nbk/nbk507857
  2. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamasurgery/article-abstract/541313

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