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  • Explore Your Body - Microbe Magic
    t chewed really well or some really dry food it can get stuck in your oesophagus When this happens the muscles in the area where the food is stuck work really hard squeezing the food until it moves further down your oesophagus no matter how long it takes You have 22 different muscles in your oesophagus These muscles are so strong you can swallow food no matter what position you are in and it will get to your stomach While it is certainly easier and a lot more comfortable to swallow food when you are upright you can swallow food even if you are standing on your head The entrance to your oesophagus is at the back of your mouth in your throat It shares the space with your trachea your windpipe which is why food or drink sometimes go down the wrong way and make you cough But why doesn t this happen every time you eat or drink When you swallow a small flap of tissue called the epiglottis closes over your trachea and makes sure the food or drink goes down the correct pipe This explains why food goes down the wrong way more often if you try to eat and talk at the same time Where your oesophagus ends at the beginning of your stomach there is a ring of muscle that can contract very tightly and close off your oesophagus This muscle is very important as it protects your oesophagus from the acids in your stomach that break down the food you have swallowed If this muscle is damaged or is weak acid can get into your oesophagus and cause damage which can be quite painful Sometimes you will hear adults talk about reflux of heartburn which actually has nothing to do with your heart

    Original URL path: http://microbemagic.ucc.ie/inside_guts/more_info/oesophagus.html (2015-07-23)
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  • Explore Your Body - Microbe Magic
    has glands that produce lots of gastric this just means stomach juices These contain many different chemicals like pepsin an enzyme that digests proteins in foods like meat eggs or dairy products and acids like hydrochloric acid The acids in your stomach are very strong and could do lots of damage to your body Luckily the inside of your stomach is very tough so it can handle the acids Your stomach needs to be ready to process food so if you see smell or taste food the gastric glands produce gastric juices in preparation for the food that is about to arrive If you are pretending to eat like if you chew gum your stomach thinks its going to get food and gets ready Because you are chewing but not swallowing any food the gastric juices don t have anything to work on so they can end up damaging your stomach Your stomach is very tough but if there are lots of times where there is no food in your stomach the damage can become so bad that an ulcer a hole will form This is very painful indeed and needs to be treated by a doctor Your stomach acts

    Original URL path: http://microbemagic.ucc.ie/inside_guts/more_info/stomach.html (2015-07-23)
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  • Explore Your Body - Microbe Magic
    the time it gets to your colon The chyme isn t moved along by tiny hairs villi like in the small intestine so it moves a lot more slowly Food can take 12 25 hours to travel through your large intestine so the last nutrients from your dinner from Thursday are still being processed on Friday The final digestion of nutrients like vitamins and minerals in your large intestine takes place with the help of over 700 different kinds of microbes including our friend GI Jake a Bifidobacterium As well as helping with digestion these bacteria also produce small amounts of vitamins like vitamin B and vitamin K that your body uses to stay healthy Something else that bacteria produce that isn t so welcome is gas The bacteria produce several gases including nitrogen carbon dioxide and methane as they ferment undigested complex carbohydrates like beans breads and some vegetables It s a really good idea to chew your food properly so there is as few lumps of these foods as possible in your large intestine and you don t end up with mega gas issues In your large intestine water and salts like sodium are taken from the chyme and returned to your body This is extremely important as it keeps your body balanced with the right amount of salt and water When the water is returned to your body all that is left is the waste product things your body doesn t want or cannot use This waste doesn t have much water and is compacted to become quite solid Some people call this waste poop or faeces or a stool or a bowel movement It has lots of different names but it all goes to the same place It passes from your large intestine through your rectum

    Original URL path: http://microbemagic.ucc.ie/inside_guts/more_info/small_intestine.html (2015-07-23)
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  • Explore Your Body - Microbe Magic
    cannot digest Although you cannot digest fibre it is really important in digestion as it helps to bulk up your food and move it along your intestines at the right rate to keep them healthy Faeces can loose lots of water if you are dehydrated when you don t have enough water in your body which makes them very difficult to move along your intestines and very difficult to push out from your anus Dehydration is sometimes the cause of constipation On the other hand if your faeces have too much water they will pass through your large intestine too quickly a condition known as diarrhoea Diarrhoea can be very dangerous as it causes very quick dehydration and your body also expels lots of a particular type of salt from your body which can make it malfunction You may notice that faeces can smell pretty bad This smell comes from the bacteria that help you to digest the food you eat they produce gas as they ferment your food The smell and build up of gas really depends on what you eat Some foods like beans and processed food a lot of the stuff that comes ready made make sure

    Original URL path: http://microbemagic.ucc.ie/inside_guts/more_info/rectum.html (2015-07-23)
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  • Explore Your Body - Microbe Magic
    the easiest way is to eat some Look at the labels on foods like yoghurt dairy drinks and cheeses to see which contain good bacteria the next time you are in the supermarket Bacteria are good for you make them work for you The bad bacteria Bacteria get a lot of bad press because some of them are really bad There are plenty of good bacteria but these don t make the news so often because they just get on with their jobs and don t cause any trouble In fact without good bacteria we would have a lot of trouble surviving because they manage to keep you safe from a lot of the bad bacteria Although they are small bacteria are very clever and they have learnt to live everywhere including inside and on you Bacteria get a lot of attention because some of them a small amount can make you sick or even kill you They can also cause some really annoying illnesses like sore ears nose throat and eyes Some infections can spread right inside your body and give you more serious diseases such as respiratory infections like pneumonia If bacteria get inside you they have the right conditions to grow food moisture nutrients whatever they need to allow them to survive There are also bacteria that can live even without light oxygen heat or any of the other things a lot of bacteria need and these can also grow inside you Bacteria make copies of themselves using binary fission amazingly fast as fast as once every 20 minutes That means if you have 1 bacterium at 9am on Monday by noon you will have 512 by 4pm you will have over 2 million and by the time you go to bed 8pm you will have nearly 9 thousand million The bad bacteria in the environment cause lots of problems they can cause waste and disease If you leave food out in the open it will begin to rot This is because bacteria like tasty food too and will eat the food you have left out and make lots more bacteria in the process You have to be very careful to store food correctly because if you eat food that contains bacteria you will get food poisoning which can make you very ill You cannot always tell if your food does contain bacteria unless of course it smells really bad a looks a little yucky Sometimes though things can look less than perfect but they are safe to eat If a banana skin has spots or a slice of apple gets a little brown because it was left out in the air they are still perfectly safe to eat and you won t get sick Good hygiene when you are buying storing preparing cooking and eating food will make sure that you avoid getting bacteria on your food and any small amount that do make it will be killed by making sure you cook your food properly Food can be protected from bacteria by preserving it you can do this by freezing drying pickling or salting it These methods of preservation slow down the growth of the bacteria or kill them off altogether Remember though that bacteria are really tough and there are so many different types you would have trouble counting them all Eventually even food that has been preserved can be invaded by bacteria so remember to check all use by dates Your body takes the nutrients from the food you eat and leaves the things it doesn t want or cannot use behind These waste products your faeces or poo can smell pretty bad This smell comes from the bacteria that help you to digest the food you eat they produce gases like nitrogen carbon dioxide and methane as they ferment undigested complex carbohydrates in your food The smell and build up of gas really depends on what you eat Some foods like beans breads some vegetables and processed food a lot of the stuff that comes ready made make sure that lots of gas builds up while others have no effect at all You know what happens when there is a build up of gas in your body it is expelled at great speed and usually with a loud noise from your body If you have eaten lots of food that make your faeces smell this will also make your gas smell really bad Also if you don t chew your food really well it can go through your digestive system in large lumps This means that nutrients are not absorbed properly and also that bacteria ferment even more which can cause smells to get worse Bacteria cause lots of different types of disease from sore throats and food poisoning to swelling of the brain and death of nerves in your skin There are some common villains that cause these diseases and these are usually put into groups according to what shape the bacterium is Cocci these are like little spheres or balls Streptococci cause a lot of sore throats and its cousin Streptococcus pneumoniae causes the more serious lung infection pneumonia A cocci bacterium also causes Meningitis an infection that causes the membrane around the brain to swell Pneumonia and meningitis can be very serious indeed although with better medicines today less people die than did before Bacilli these are shaped like rods There are two very well know causes of food poisoning salmonella and Escherichia coli called E coli Salmonella is usually found in chickens and eggs that have been contaminated and anything that has been made using contaminated chicken or eggs E coli lives in your large intestine and doesn t do you any harm If E coli gets into other parts of your body though it can cause a lot of problems The most common reason people get sick from E Coli bacteria is if they drink water or eat food that has been washed in water that has

    Original URL path: http://microbemagic.ucc.ie/inside_guts/more_info/bacteria.html (2015-07-23)
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  • Explore Your Body - Microbe Magic
    doesn t make you very sick sometimes it doesn t make you sick at all The virus lives in your body very happily but in its dormant state so it is inactive like its sleeping It can still be very dangerous as it can wake up and cause problems if you are seriously ill or if your immune system is damaged It is really important to keep fit and healthy so you can fight viruses that may be in your body if they decide to wake up Viruses have different shapes they are most commonly seen as rods spheres or many sided spheres There are even viruses shaped like a spaceship These are called bacteriophages and they infect and bacteria Researchers and scientist are trying to find ways of using these viruses to fight bacterial infections that can be used instead of antibiotics The bad viruses Viruses do lots of damage to the host and in humans they cause disease as they damage your normal healthy cells Some viruses cause diseases you will have heard of like cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus measles chickenpox and of course colds and flu Viruses can make you sick at the time but also for the rest of your life The virus that causes chickenpox can hang around in your body and if you are stressed or your immune system is damaged it can reappear when you are an adult as shingles which are very painful There is no common treatment for viruses They are not like bacteria that are killed with antibiotics Antibiotics do not work on viruses so there is no point taking them if you have a viral infection As scientists find out more about how viruses work there are some drugs being made that can treat some viral diseases but these are pretty rare The only really good way of protecting yourself against viruses is vaccination Being vaccinated means that the doctor will give you a tiny piece of a particular microbe that is dead so that is safe Vaccines won t make you sick but it shows your body enough microbe to make sure your immune system would recognise it if it saw it again Your body makes antibodies to the vaccine and you are then protected if that microbe ever tries to get past your first line of defence again Once you are vaccinated you are immune to the microbe you have been vaccinated against You have to be vaccinated for each new microbe you need to become immune to but sometimes a couple of vaccines are mixed together so you can do a couple at once Usually when you are immune to a microbe if it invades your body again you won t get sick Every so often though a microbe that you have been vaccinated against will invade your body and make you a little sick It is better though than having no defences because you are sick for a shorter time and

    Original URL path: http://microbemagic.ucc.ie/inside_guts/more_info/viruses.html (2015-07-23)
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  • Explore Your Body - Microbe Magic
    take antibiotics from someone else or antibiotics that are out of date remember antibiotics do not work on viruses so there is no point in taking them Taking antibiotics when you don t need them because the can reduce the amount of good bacteria in your body and make you even more likely to get another infection Fungi along with bacteria are one of the best decomposers of organic material Without them dead plants and animals would just hang around and the nutrients from the dead material would not return to the ground Other plants animals and micro organisms that rely on that food would also die and the delicate balance of the ecosystem would be lost So next time you are out for a walk and see mushrooms do your best to help to spread these fun guys around and help them to help you The bad fungi People have used fungi for a very long time to make life for humans that bit better Fungi like mushrooms are used as food fungi is used in the baking and brewing industries to make breads beers and wines and in medicine to make antibiotics But not all fungi are good for you some are pretty bad but why is this The different kinds of mushrooms you find in the supermarket are tasty and good for you but eating certain kinds of mushrooms from the wild can make you very ill Only properly trained people can tell which types of wild mushrooms are safe to eat so it is wise not to eat a mushroom you find growing in the wild as it could be poisonous Quite often the prettiest mushrooms the ones that have bright colours like the red Amanita muscaria with the little white spots are poisonous The most dangerous mushroom the Death Cap mushroom is a plain white colour and beautiful to look at but just a little can be lethal Lots of people are made very sick from eating mushrooms they pick in the wild They get a range of nasty symptoms from a sore tummy to an allergic reaction or even total organ failure and death Remember its not just the ugly mushrooms that are dangerous the toxins from pretty looking and tasty mushrooms can kill you even after the mushrooms have been cooked The best rule is to never eat a mushroom if you find it growing wild Get your mushrooms from your greengrocer or the supermarket The fungi you can sometimes find on your body don t always make you sick they are usually just annoying Fungal infections are usually found on your skin nails hair things like athletes foot which is an itchy rash that can be found between your toes or ringworm which is a scaly patch that can be found on your skin Other fungal infections can get to your internal organs like your lungs and nervous system which is much more serious Fungi like A spergillus and Candida are often

    Original URL path: http://microbemagic.ucc.ie/inside_guts/more_info/fungi.html (2015-07-23)
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  • Explore Your Body - Microbe Magic
    Saccharomyces cerevisiae is used in the process of fermentation to make bread Yeasts are also involved in the fermentation of wines and beers and in brewing soy sauce which is used in Chinese cooking Blue chesses like Cashel blue or Roquefort are injected with certain kinds of fungal spores The mold that grows from the fungal spores gives the blue cheeses their colour and yummy taste Don t worry these fungal spores and molds are not toxic to humans so they won t make you sick There are some fungi that are used in medicine They kill bacteria that invade your body and produce antibiotics like penicillin Antibiotics made from fungi are used to treat nasty diseases like tuberculosis TB and leprosy Not only that but they can be used to fight off insects pests and even other fungi that grow on plants Fungi along with bacteria are one of the best decomposers of organic material Without them dead plants and animals would just hang around and the nutrients from the dead material would not return to the ground Other plants animals and micro organisms that rely on that food would also die and the delicate balance of the ecosystem would be lost So next time you are out for a walk and see mushrooms do your best to help to spread these fun guys around and help them to help you So not all parasites are bad but it can be very difficult to find a good one Make sure you use an expert to figure out which ones are your friends The bad parasites In humans parasites usually cause discomfort or disease Lice for example are a parasite that can be found in your hair or on your body There are over 3 000 species of lice which are just wingless insects and the feed on your skin the oils that your skin and hair secrete and your blood You can tell if lice have fed on your blood because their colour changes from the normal beige or grey to a much darker shade Lice have special adaptations that allow them to infest your body but these depend very much on the type of louse a single lice and where they live They have strong short legs with claws that cling on very tightly to your hair or skin and they are small and flat which make them very hard to get rid of They lay eggs called nits and attaching them to the host using very special saliva that glues the eggs to hair These nits are extremely difficult to get rid of unless you use special chemical products Parasites cause lots of different diseases in humans Diseases like malaria are caused by protozoa a single celled organism that in the case of malaria is spread by a certain type of infected mosquito in particular areas of the world When the mosquito bites a human the malaria protozoa parasite gets into their bloodstream and travels to their

    Original URL path: http://microbemagic.ucc.ie/inside_guts/more_info/parasites.html (2015-07-23)
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