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The Large Intestine/Bowel, or Colon

The primary function of the large intestine or colon is to absorb fluids and electrolytes, particularly sodium and potassium, and to convert remaining luminal contents into more solid stool.

The colon absorbs on average 1–1.5 liters (about 1–1.5 quarts) of fluid every day and has a capacity to adapt its fluid absorption to as much as 5 liters/quarts per day if needed.

Another function of the colon is to break down (ferment) dietary fiber to produce short chain fatty acids – substances that can be absorbed and provide added nutrition.

The first portion of the colon, the cecum, is shaped like a pouch, and is the area of storage for the contents arriving from the ileum. The second portion is the ascending colon, where fluids are absorbed and where some stool formation begins.



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