Authors: AUC medical students and Dr. Colin Michie

Wali would like to talk about the stomach! Now there is an important organ! If you are like me (well, not really – I am just a lizard!) you will spend quite a lot of time every day thinking about food.

I sit on a branch for hours thinking about some fresh new flowers! This is okay for Wali, but not so good if you are at school, or if you are a medical student. You need to focus your mind on your schoolwork! Yes, really, mind work is more important than food!

Those medical students tell me they have a big respect for the stomach. They tell me that being inside the stomach is one place you do not want to be! Your stomach is the fiercest part of your body, because it fills up with acid.

You can make over a litre of acid every day in your stomach. That’s a lot! Acids are useful in the stomach because they kill bad bacteria and viruses in your food. They help break down or digest the substances food is made from – like the proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Acid can turn these into a soup that your body can use.

You humans have a really narrow swallowing tube, your oesophagus (you say this o-sofagus), that makes sure the food goes down and no acid comes up. If you do not chew your food, you will feel it going down your oesophagus when you swallow.

Iguanas do not have this problem. We can swallow big lumps of food, which means we have really bad table manners and gulp everything!

But Wali has a question for you about eating: Why do you children put stuff that is not food in your mouths? I have seen you sucking your thumbs (yuk!), pencils and strange things like batteries and coins. This is nuts!

I mean, your fingers are usually dirty, and coins or batteries can block or damage your oesophagus. If you swallow them by mistake, it will be hospital time! Those shiny batteries are a really big problem. If you catch small children putting them in their mouths, make sure they spit them out! Humans are curious creatures!

Wali is off to dream of a little snack of flowers – and not batteries! Look after your oesophagus until our next Wali Wednesday.