Back to  How do Knights go to the washroom, and other related questions about human digestion.

We took some liberties interpreting your questions, but, let's see if we can answer them.

Food is your body's fuel, just like gasoline is fuel for a car.

Here is a detailed description of digestion from Compton's Encyclopedia.

The digestive system consists of a tube extending from the mouth to the anus. In it, food and fluids are taken in, moved through the body, and broken down into small molecules that are absorbed into the circulatory system. This breakdown, known as digestion, is both a mechanical and a chemical process.

Food enters through the mouth, where chewing and saliva start to break it up and make it easier to swallow. Next, the food travels down through the esophagus to the stomach. Contractions of the stomach's muscular wall continue to break down the food mechanically, and chemical digestion continues when acid and enzymes are secreted into the stomach cavity.

The liquified food gradually passes into the small intestine. In the first part of the small intestine, called the duodenum, enzymes from the pancreas are added. These enzymes complete the chemical breakdown of the food. The digestion of fat is aided by bile, which is made in the liver and stored in the gall bladder. The small intestine of an adult is about 21 feet (6.4 meters) long. Most of its length is devoted to absorbing the nutrients released during these digestive activities.

The liquid remainder of the food enters the large intestine, or colon, which is about 12 feet (3.7 meters) long. It is more than twice as wide as the small intestine. In the large intestine most of the fluid is absorbed, and the relatively dry residues are expelled.

Okay, it's the last bit that some of you were interested in. When you go to the bathroom, you are getting rid of what's left of your food. This is what your body doesn't need. As for the gases, farts, that you were curious about, this is also a by-product of digestion. Burping is also caused by digestion, although sometimes if you eat to fast, you swallow air which then comes up again.

Thanks for your interesting questions.

Now, about the poor knight in shining armour. Well, their armour was well made with openings and flaps in just the right places so that they could relieve themselves without removing too much armour. I suppose they had latrines or out-houses wherever they went to battle.

Excerpted from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia. Copyright (c) 1994, 1995, 1996 SoftKey Multimedia Inc. All Rights Reserved

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