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The small intestine, despite its name, is the longest part of the gastrointestinal tract. It works with other organs of the digestive system to further digest food after it leaves the stomach and to absorb nutrients. The entire digestive system works together to turn the food you eat into energy.
The small intestine is a long, winding tube connected to the stomach on one end and the large intestine on the other. According to the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Digestive Disease Center, the small intestine is only about as big around as a middle finger (approximately 1 inch or 2.5 centimeters) and is from 20 to 25 feet (6 to 7.6 meters) long in an adult.
Section - Two-fifths - Length - Intestine - Jejunum
The middle section, about two-fifths of the length of the small intestine, is called the jejunum, and the last section is the ileum. The primary function of both of these sections is to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream. Both the jejunum and the ileum have linings with many folds that increase the surface area of the small intestine (about 2,700 square feet or 250 square meters) for maximized nutrient absorption. These folds contain tiny, finger-like cells known as villi, which are each covered with a layer of microvilli (microscopic hair-like structures) that further increase the surface area available for nutrient absorption.
Once the digested food leaves the ileum, more than 95 percent of the nutrients (such as vitamins, minerals, proteins and carbohydrates) the body needs has been absorbed. What's left moves on to the large intestine, according to the MUSC Digestive Disease Center.
Intestine - Ways - US - National - Library
The small intestine can become diseased or problematic in many ways. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), disorders of the small intestine include bleeding, celiac disease, Crohn's disease, infections, intestinal cancer, intestinal obstruction and blockage, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, pain,...
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