I’m assuming you grew up hearing this same statement about the Appendix as I did. It was always something along the lines of: “It’s basically useless. We’re not quite sure what it’s there for”. In this article I intend to shed some light on this vastly unknown subject. And most importantly of all, you will learn how it relates to your gut health!
I. Where is The Appendix?
To review, your digestive system is your gastrointestinal tract. It begins in the mouth and ends…well, you get the idea….out the ‘other’ end. It is comprised of your mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, appendix, large intestine and rectum. (1) These organs all work together beautifully to get food through the network of your gastrointestinal tract.
Your appendix, also called the vermiform or ‘worm-shaped appendix, is located just below the entry from the small intestine to the large intestine. It looks like a deflated ballon, or a ‘little tail’.
II. What Does It Do?
Because the appendix is too small to deal with most chyme, or partially digested food, it rarely participates in daily digestion. This where the rumor originated that ‘the appendix is essentially useless’.
However, this seemly insignificant little organ serves TWO very important purposes:
1.) First, it protects you from dangerous pathogens and germs. Your appendix is mostly comprised of tonsillar immune tissue, which is also found in in the root of the tongue, the back of the mouth and the side of the throat. This immune tissue’s one job is to detect any foreign substances and explore whether it poses a danger to the body or not. This process ‘trains’ the immune system to protect us. Therefore, it acts as a powerful defense shield against evil germs. When the appendix is unable to effectively dispose of the evil germs it surrounded, it will swell with inflammation often leading to the ever so common common appendectomy.
2.) It is a Storehouse of Beneficial Gut Bacteria. The appendix is a sort of beneficial bacteria reserve, strategically placed next to the large intestine. This was discovered in 2007 by American Researchers Randal Bollinger and William Parker. They ascertained that a large amount gut microbes are typically washed out of the body after a period of heavy diarrhea and uncovered the incredible role the appendix plays in reseeding the large intestine with beneficial gut bacteria. (2)
Research shows that the large intestine is home to most of our gut bacteria. What is also shown is that the tonsillar immune tissue in the appendix is in direct communication with the bacteria in the large intestine. The beneficial bacteria work to train our immune system and are constantly receiving information from the immune system in our body. Because almost 70% of the immune system is located in the gut, having the appendix, comprised of immune tissue, right next door to the large intestine proves to be very handy for the overall training of our immune system. (3)
III. What Do You Do If You’ve Had an Appendectomy?
First of all, what causes Appendicitis which leads to the all too common Appendectomy?
As I mentioned above, the appendix is made of immune tissue. Therefore, it is constantly trapping and destroying dangerous germs and viruses before they reach the large intestine. Sometimes those dangerous germs get stuck in the little pouch of the appendix. When the appendix is unable to effectively dispose of the evil germs it surrounded, it causes the entire organ to swell up with inflammation. This inflammation often causing Appendicitis.
Over 270,000 Appendectomies are performed each year in the Unites Sates, making quite a common occurrence. If you have had your appendix removed, don’t panic. However, it is vitally important that you take deliberate measures to reseed your large intestine with beneficial bacteria on a regular basis to support your immune system.
WHAT YOU CAN DO IN LIGHT OF THIS RESEARCH
If you have had YOUR appendix removed and would like to learn how to recover and reseed your gut fully for optimal health and digestion, set up a free 45 minute consultation with us.
We’re here to help and serve you. We’ll get clear on where you are and where you want to go then hammer out a plan to get there.
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1. Enders, Giulia. Gut: The Inside Story Of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ. Scribe, 2015. Print. pp. 25-27
2.Enders, Giulia. Gut: The Inside Story Of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ. Scribe, 2015. Print. pp. 43-45.
Image: Digestive Tract Image. See Page for Author (CC by 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licences/by/4.0), via Wikimedia Commons