Transit time

Life moves at a pretty fast pace. Though it looks like we’re slowing down in one area –  how long it takes for food to travel from your mouth out?

The term is whole gut transit time. We know too fast is bad  (diarrhea) and too slow is bad (constipation) so let’s talk about what’s “just right” in travel time.

First, we should remember that each of us is unique so what’s normal for one person may be out of the norm for the next. Second, remember babies  have a pretty rapid transit time and that’s normal; as we age, the gut slows down and that’s normal too. But let’s look beyond.

Whole gut transit time is the sum of stomach emptying time, small intestine travel time and large intestine travel time.

We like food to remain in our stomachs for awhile because that gives us a feeling of fullness. Average time for the stomach to empty is between 4 and 6 hours. Fiber is a perfect way to influence that. Plant foods remain in the stomach while our body tries to figure out what to do with it. Plants fibers are essentially unchanged in the stomach.

In the small intestine, we like the food mass to move at a pace that allows for final digestion and nutrient absorption; this will take about 5 hours on average. And then on to the all important large intestine or colon. The range for fecal matter transit is anywhere from 10 – 59 hours. So, a meal makes it out in 1 – 3 days.

And it’s that last segment that concerns researchers. The journal Nature Microbiology published a study suggesting that harmful break down products that linger in the colon are potentially harmful. These compounds may damage the colon’s inner lining.

So, to achieve “just right” transit time, prevent constipation. More plant foods, more water and more exercise will help your gut, to be well,




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