Ask Jimmy and the Bug

Jimmy and the Bug

Hey Bug! The 4th grader at Keller School wants to know: “If you eat too much will you explode?

there is a picture of a nebula

Only in science fiction movies will you see an exploding stomach. Your stomach, which grinds, churns, and temporarily stores your food, is designed to stretch.

Unlike a starfish, which can push its stomach out of its mouth and plop it over its dinner, you digest the food you eat inside your body. By a process called peristalsis, muscles contract in waves to push your food through your digestive tract, which is like a long tube (open at both ends) and includes your mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, and small and large intestines.

Along the way, your body breaks down your food into smaller and smaller pieces and takes in or absorbs what it needs. The rest passes out of your body as feces (poop).

There are two centers in your brain that control your eating behavior. One senses that you need energy and tells you to eat; the other senses that you've had enough and tells you to stop. But sometimes, people don't pay attention to these messages. Champion competitive eaters like Takeru Kobayashi, a young Japanese man who ate 50 1/2 hot dogs in 12 minutes, ignore their brains for fame and glory.

But overeating can turn on the “vomiting center” in your brain. When it sends messages to your digestive tract, peristalsis is reversed. Chewed, churned, and partially digested food from your stomach and upper small intestine is pushed up by your muscles until it explodes out of your mouth.

Activity

  1. What process is described in this article?
    [anno: The process of digestion.]
  2. What does this process allow the human body to do?
    [anno: It allows the body to break down food and absorb nutrients from the food.]
  3. Sometimes people vomit if they eat too much food. Other times people vomit food if the food had something wrong with it. For example, if you ate unwashed strawberries that had a harmful bacteria on them, you might vomit the strawberries back up. Why do you think a person's body vomits out food that is bad?
    [anno: People vomit out food that is bad because the body is trying to get rid of poisonous material.]