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Digestive System

Absorption And Elimination In The Large Intestine

The large intestine, or colon, is wider and heavier then the small intestine, but much shorter—only about 4 ft (1.2 m) long. It rises up on one side of the body (the ascending colon), crosses over to the other side (the transverse colon), descends (the descending colon), forms an s-shape (the sigmoid colon), reaches the rectum, and anus, from which the waste products of digestion (feces or stool), are passed out, along with gas. The muscular rectum, about 5 in (13 cm) long, expels the feces through the anus, which has a large muscular sphincter that controls the passage of waste matter.

The large intestine extracts water from the waste products of digestion and returns some of it to the bloodstream, along with some salts. Fecal matter contains undigested food, bacteria, and cells from the walls of the digestive tract. Certain types of bacteria of the large intestine help to synthesize the vitamins needed by the body. These vitamins find their way to the bloodstream along with the water absorbed from the colon, while excess fluids are passed out with the feces.

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