Stomach, Intestines and Kidneys

In the nine-meter long intestinal canal the things we eat are broken down – allowing nutrients to be absorbed in a step-by-step process directed by the gut microbial flora, digestive enzymes, hormones and signals from the nervous system.

Tarmar, njurar och lever. Foto: Istock
It is not only the body’s largest immune and nervous organs, but it also contains around 100-1 000 billion bacteria of great diversity, whose metabolic activity has gained increased interest in relation to development of food allergies, obesity and atherosclerosis. It is therefore not surprising that around a fifth of all individuals get a disorder or disease in their intestines at one time or another.

Many gut disorders are benign, but still very inconvenient to the sufferer, like irritable colon, gastritis and constipation. Winter-vomiting (Calicivirus) and other viral diseases engage a lot of people each year, and is both a health threat and economic burden to the society. Some common disease groups require specialized attention and care, for instance gluten intolerance (celiac disease), inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease), stomach ulcers, gallstones, liver diseases, inflammation of the pancreas, and gastrointestinal cancers.

Globally, intestinal infections due to bacteria, viruses and parasites form a gigantic problem, that kill more than two million children a year and affect the well-being of many more, both children and adults. Half of the world’s population carries Helicobacter pylori bacteria in the stomach, and one out of ten will likely suffer from ulcers.