For Anyone Curious as To How Your Tubing Works---& It's Hilarious Too,
This review is from: Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal (Paperback)
Gulp. Adventures on The Alimentary Canal
By Mary Roach
Though author Roach was recently called "America's funniest science writer" (Washington Post) she is not a scientist and claims that she often times has to fake her way through interviews with the experts. This alone was enough of an endorsement to get my attention, yet I've read her work before and pretty much knew what I was in for. Or did I?
Though author Roach starts off with a non-alimentary canal location (the nose) it's quickly explained that it is through the process of smell that we eat what we do, not necessarily because of how it tastes. Eighty to Ninety percent, to be exact. And on she travels, down our inner tubing, splashing next into the stomach. Since mine is on the sensitive side, I paid close attention to this particular chapter, before moving on down.
"...stomachs can digest themselves. Gastric acid and pepsin digest the cells of the stomach's protective layer quite effectively...the organ swiftly rebuilds what it breaks down. A healthy adult has a new stomach lining every three days."
Food for thought indeed.
The author offers tons of interesting facts, figures and things to consider, here are just a few; Laundry detergent is essentially a digestive tract in a box, fecal transplants can cure intractable C. diff infection, internal cleansings are very unhealthy, humans secrete two types of saliva--stimulated and un-stimulated and Elvis did not die of an overdose. I'm not telling, you'll have to read this baby to find out the truth.
Over the years, as you can well imagine, many, in the name of science, came up with all sorts of reasons why and how the body digested food and ways to help the process along. Take Horace Fletcher, the nut-case who instigated a famous fad for extreme over-chewing called Fletcherizing. He suggested that the best and most efficient way to get the biggest buck from every bite was to chew one's food until it was completely liquefied. Talk about long lunches!
Then author Roach researched the famous surgeon William Beaumont's case proving once and for all how little chewing is needed to digest most foods completely. It was done under rather unsavory conditions, but makes for some fascinating after-lunch reading.
Trust me, read it after.
She also delves into stuffing yourself for a living, using the lower intestine to transport items, nose-picking frequency and the history of flatulence research (you won't believe the ending).
"If things go as they should, the bacteria hysteria so lucratively nurtured by the likes of Purell and Lysol will begin to subside."
According to Roach, Bacteria is what keeps our system literally chugging along, without it, well, things that should move on and out (think grown children) can turn into all sorts of discomforts. She does hop around a great deal and touches on pet food science for some bizarre reason, but overall this is a hilarious as well as informing read.
"Most of us pass our lives never once laying eyes on our organs, the most precious and amazing things we own. Until something goes wrong, we barely give them thought."
This book will give you much to chew on.