We can only give a rough estimate as regards the time it will take the body to digest and eventually excrete foods. This is because the digestion process is faster for some people, slower for some, and moderate for some. But on a whole, the estimated time food digestion takes is between 1 to 3 days. That is between 24 – 72 hours.
Understanding the various digestive phases and how they play out will help you better understand this subject. This subject, amongst other things, will be discussed in this post on the nutrition page of the International Health Alliance website.
The Time it Takes Food to Digest at Various Stages
Digestion is a long process involving various parts of the body. Various enzymes, acids, and organs that make up the gut tract are involved. How and when digestive activities take place at various digestive phases are briefly explained below:
This is the visible phase as the food substance is broken down in the mouth. Saliva is very crucial in breaking down food particles in the oral phase. In particular, the amylase enzyme contained in saliva does the larger chunk of the breaking down of food in the mouth. The natural chemical feature of this enzyme does help in making this happen.
This can take lots of seconds to several minutes. This is especially dependent on the kind of food you eat and your eating habit.
The broken-down food in the mouth goes through the esophagus to the stomach. It is at this point that the gastric phase sets in. Once in the stomach, enzymes and stomach acid play crucial roles in digestion.
For example, pepsin is one of the important enzymes that get to work. With the digestive activities of pepsin, protein is broken down into small particles for easy absorption and extraction of its nutrients.
As much as possible, stomach acid ensures that no foodborne disease is permitted in your stomach. It contributes to healthy living by ensuring bad microbes (viruses and bacteria) present in foods consumed are prevented from wreaking havoc. Up until when food is digested in the stomach and moved into the small intestine, this takes between 3 – 7 hours.
The small and large intestines are important organs in the entire digestive system. Even right inside the large instance, for example, parts like the colon play very critical roles in the digestive process. This is by facilitating the absorption of water, nutrients, and electrolytes. Also, the appendix on the lower right side of your stomach is involved as well.
The bulk of the time that digestion takes, happens in both the small intestine and large intestine. The rectum (which is also part of the large intestine) is where remnant foods leave via bowel movement. All these can take up to 24 hours and even much more.
How Food Influences Digestion Time
Certain foods are easier to digest than others. For example, digesting red meat is an uphill task and this informs the need to eat less of it. On the contrary, foods that are high in fiber are not this way. They move more rapidly through the digestive system. Some of these high-fiber content foods include:
- Whole grains
Other than the advantage of easy bowel movement, other advantages of eating a fiber-rich diet include – acting as food for good bacteria, preventing bloating & constipation, and facilitating weight loss.
Healthy Digestion Is the Priority
As far as digestion is concerned, the focus should be on having a healthy digestive system than anything else. Just so you know, quick digestion does not always translate to healthy digestion. Some gut conditions are proof of this. Symptoms like diarrhea are perfect examples.
With digestive problems like diarrhea, digestion happens very fast but not in a healthy manner. It can even cause pain in the stomach. On the contrary, some digestive conditions and their symptoms slow digestion in an unhealthy manner.
Do you want other relevant and interesting nutrition information? Then, check other articles on our nutrition page. For example, you can discover what qualifies as the best probiotic supplement for women.