The ileum is a continuation of the jejunum. It is about 3 m long and has permanent circular folds (3-10 mm), which promote the mixing of the chyme. This enters the villi - the finger-like projections of the mucosal layer into the intestinal lumen.
Absorption of chyme is via the villi to the capillary and venous drainage of the gut. The remaining chyme, which is rich in bacteria and unwanted undigested food, enters the large bowel at the caecal valve.
The whole digestive process is aimed at processing food into the most simplistic forms that can be absorbed easily into the blood and lymphatic systems. About 90% of this absorption takes place in the small intestine. The other 10% is absorbed in the stomach or large bowel.
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