alimentary canal

人体キャラクター図鑑 14


  • リンパ管 りんぱかん  lymph duct
  • リンパ節 りんぱせつ  lymph node
  • 付け根 つけね  root; joint; base
  • 成分 せいぶん  ingredient; component; composition
  • 外敵 がいてき  outside invader
  • ろ過する ろかする  filtration
  • 撃退 げきたい  repulse; repel (i.e. the enemy)
  • 搔い潜る かいくぐる  to slip through
  • しぶとい  tenacious; obstinate; unyielding
  • 消化管 しょうかかん  alimentary canal
  • 消化酵素 しょうかこうそ  digestive enzyme

@thelipstickchronicles You would love Mary Roach. She’s trained her considerable wit and curiosity on several topics, including: the human soul (Spook), the human cadaver (Stiff), the alimentary canal (Gulp) sex (Bonk), space (Packing for Mars), and war (Grunt). She has an amazing sense of humor and it makes her books all the more entertaining, enjoyable, etc. I recommend you start with Stiff. Who knew cadavers could be so much fun? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Graphic Picks #16

Hi everyone! Today’s second Graphic Pick is Gulp by March Roach. It’s an exploration of what happens to our food when we eat it, and I’d recommend this book to readers (or listeners, because I loved the audiobook) age fourteen and up. Younger readers too would likely enjoy the science of flatus, but I’m not sure at what age a topic like this stops being hilarious because of fart jokes, and starts to be fascinating for its own sake, which is not to say that this book isn’t funny, because it is. And if you have a weak stomach…well, maybe you don’t necessarily want to hear all about what goes on in your alimentary canal. I guess it depends on the person.

This book is full of incredible facts about digestion that I was completely unfamiliar with. Though Mary Roach notes in the introduction that she hopes readers will find the book more fascinating than gross, there were a few cringe-worthy moments for me. (It maybe doesn’t help that I have, at best, an uneasy relationship with my own digestive system—frequent heartburn will do that. Strangely though, the descriptions of “lower body reflexes” weren’t as unnerving to me as descriptions of saliva…) 

However, the main thing I took away from this book is how amazingly complex the human body is. We’ve evolved over eons into organisms with an amazing array of structures and substances that don’t just turn our food into fuel; the enzymes, bacteria, and other elements involved with digestion also keep us healthy in ways we barely understood just a few decades ago.   

Here are just a few of the incredible facts you’ll find in Gulp:

  • Dish soaps and laundry detergents contain digestive enzymes, because these are so good at breaking down starchy stains and food.
  • Your saliva is full of bacteria, but that’s because it’s responsible for keeping your mouth clean and filtering out harmful bacteria. Saliva actually has wound-healing properties—which is why sores in the mouth rarely become infected. 

  • Pet foods are all pretty much the same; it’s just the flavor coatings that are different. (The same goes for a lot of human snack foods too.) And most pets aren’t really as picky as their owners might imagine. Humans tend to assign preferences to their pets, but most of these ideas (such as “my cat only likes tuna!”) are imagined, not real.
  • “The crunch of a chip is the sound of a tiny sonic boom inside your mouth.” Humans prefer crispy and crunchy foods, and for most of human history, our taste buds have indicated that sweet and salty foods are probably safe to eat. That’s part of why snack foods are so popular, even when they aren’t nutritious.
  • The myth of the fire-breathing dragon probably comes from the belches of large snakes being accidentally set on fire.
  • In order to maintain controlled laboratory conditions, scientists sometimes have to create artificial flatus. (That’s right–fake farts.)

  • Historical documents indicate that some ancient politicians may have been poisoned via enema.
  • There is such a thing as defecation associated sudden death. (And you thought the idea of spontaneous combustion was unnerving.)
  • Our behavior can be influenced by the microorganisms that live inside us, as can our weight and overall health. And introducing new bacteria to someone’s body can change those things. But the idea of transplanting fecal bacteria has been slow to take off…even though it works in most patients. (Mary Roach notes that drug companies aren’t likely to support treatments that don’t cost anything and actually cure bowel ailments. “Pharmaceutical companies make money by treating diseases—not by curing them.”)

So, if you aren’t disgusted by all this, you should probably read (or listen to) this excellent book. You’ll learn a lot about the amazing biological processes going on inside you all the time, and, I promise, you’ll laugh too at the sometimes absurd realities of digestive science. Honestly, I’d recommend any book by Mary Roach–she never fails to amuse, horrify, and educate me on some of the more esoteric aspects of scientific inquiry.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you again next week! :)