Gastroenterology is a branch of medicine that focuses on the structure, functions and diseases of your digestive tract and a gastroenterologist is a specialist in the digestive system.
The digestive system includes the 25-foot-long tube that processes food and nutrients, plus the liver, pancreas and gallbladder. These organs break down and absorb the food we eat so that the nutrients can be transported into the blood stream and delivered to cells throughout the body.
Good digestive health describes a digestive system that has appropriate nutrient absorption, intestinal motility, immune function and a balanced microbiota (the community of microorganisms that live in the gut). A balanced diet has an important role in maintaining digestive health and can prevent or help relieve certain digestive symptoms. Most people with good digestive health do not regularly experience digestive symptoms such as heartburn, rumbling, nausea, bloating, excessive flatulence, constipation, diarrhea, or abdominal pain and discomfort.
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