Table of Contents
How long does your food take to be digested? The total time it takes for food to pass through your stomach, small intestine and large intestine and then finally being eliminated from your rectum, is referred to as food transit time. You don’t need to have a PhD in Medicine to know that something is not exactly right in your body when food goes through the system too fast (diarrhea) or stays there too long (constipation). But what else can be said about a person’s health on the basis of their food transit time?
Measuring Your Transit Time
One can measure their food transit time by eating something that is easily visible in the stools. There are various methods by which it can be calculated, even at home.
- Try eating whole corn seed or sunflower seeds with a meal. Corn is usually not completely digested in the intestines and because of its bright color it can be easily seen in the stool. Notice the time of your meal and the time when you are able to view them in your stool.
- Eat beetroot with your meal. Try not to chew it completely before swallowing. You can easily see the red pigment of beets in your stool as a marker.
It could be due to an inflammation caused by an intestinal infection, any food allergy, extreme stress, anxiety, hyperthyroidism, and other causes. A person with a short transit time may suffer from malnutrition because of the malabsorption of nutrients, despite consuming large amounts of food.
What Food Transit Time Says About Your Health
The ideal bowel transit time is between 12 and 18 hours or up to 24 hours. This also means that you should clear your bowel daily, but a daily bowel movement doesn't necessarily tell you about the health of your colon. Even if one is having a daily bowel movement, they may still be suffering from a slow transit time or constipation. Without a bowel transit test, you may not know whether you are eliminating something that you ate two or three days before.
The longer a meal stays inside the colon, the more time the toxins and decayed waste have for inflicting damage to your body. A bowel transit time of more than two days increases the risk of all types of cancer (not only colon cancer) and bacterial infection, thus weakening the overall immune system.
Similarly, a short transit time shows that the food is passing through the digestive tract very quickly without absorbing many nutrients. A short transit time with loose stools may lead to nutritional deficiencies along with electrolyte imbalances, anemia, osteoporosis, muscle cramps etc.