How Do People Digest Food Without a Stomach?

Posted on 2023/04/28 by Laparoscopic Surgical Center of New York

The body is a fantastic biological machine that works in almost perfect harmony. Every organ performs a specific task contributing to the survival and function of the whole body. Sometimes, however, you can get a condition that can affect the operation of an entire organ. Some conditions can threaten your life and may require the removal of the entire organ. One organ that is sometimes removed because of certain conditions is the stomach.

The stomach rarely falls among the body organs that people think they can live without. You need to eat, and for that, the stomach is key to digestion. The stomach indeed plays a crucial role in digestion, but people have had their stomachs removed and still survive. Stomach removal is one of the most impressive advancements in surgical medicine. 


What Is Stomach Removal?


The clinical term for stomach removal surgery is gastrectomy. A surgeon can perform a partial gastrectomy or a full gastrectomy. In a partial gastrectomy, the surgeon removes only part of the stomach, often the lower part. They then connect the small intestines to the upper stomach. 

A total gastrectomy is determined by where the issue is affecting the stomach. Often, it is performed when you have a tumor in the stomach. They will extract the whole abdomen and then connect the small intestines to the base of the esophagus. Your digestive system remains functional, allowing you to eat and drink. However, it works differently from when you have a stomach. 


What Happens After Stomach Removal?


After having a total gastrectomy, your digestive system will work differently. Your eating habits must change to adapt to your new system's food intake. Your digestion process will affect how and what you eat and how frequently you eat. Your doctor will advise you on what your new diet should look like. 

  • Digestion

The stomach plays a crucial role in digestion because it helps break down food. Most often, you chew less thoroughly when eating. The stomach will receive the food from the mouth and churn as it breaks down the food mechanically and chemically with stomach acid. 

Without the stomach, your food will go straight to the intestines. The intestines primarily work to absorb nutrients and not to digest food. With no further breakdown of food in the stomach, you will need to ensure you chew your food well. You will also need to be keener with the food you eat.

  • Eating

One of the first things the surgeon will tell you about your new digestive system is the importance of watching your portions. The stomach allows you to eat significant amounts that sit in it while it breaks down. Without it, you will need to eat smaller portions. Surgeons recommend having six to eight meals in small amounts a day. You will also need to sit upright immediately after you eat.

Dietary Guidelines

  • Eat nutrient-dense foods like fruits, whole grains, vegetables, and proteins

  • Ensure you eat every two to three hours

  • Have a healthy snack with you throughout the day

  • Use nutrient-dense liquid like eggnog, milk, or unsweetened juice

For more on how people digest food without a stomach, visit the Laparoscopic Surgical Center of New York at our office in New York, New York. Call (212) 879-6677 to book an appointment today.

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