How Long Does It Take To Digest Food (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 4-6 Hours

The food that we consume gives us the energy to do our daily activities. Not only that, but food also provides nutrition to our body which helps our body function properly and fights diseases.

When we eat food, it goes through many processes to break down the complex structure of the food into simple parts, which we call nutrients. This process is called digestion.

One must try to eat foods that are easy to digest and nutritious to lead a healthy life. A nutritious diet will help the digestive system to work more efficiently and provide all the nutrition that the human body needs for various bodily functions. We must take care of our bodies by having a healthy diet and exercising.

How Long Does It Take To Digest Food?

The time taken for food to digest depends from individual to individual considering various factors such as age, gender, and health condition. On average (for a normal person), it takes between 4-6 hours for food to digest.

This time is just for the food to be digested i.e. the breakdown of the food into various nutrients like fatty acids, amino acids, and glucose. For the food to travel through the intestines and exit the body, it takes around 2-5 days.

There is nothing one can do as such to increase the speed of digestion after eating food. Although, one can eat foods that are easier to digest, like fruits and vegetables. This will help the process to be more efficient.

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Summary:

Transit Status Of FoodTime Taken
Traveling Through The Colon30 to 40 Hours
50% Emptying Of Small Intestine2.5 to 3 Hours
50% Emptying Of Stomach2.5 to 3 Hours
Complete Emptying Of Stomach4 to 5 Hours

Numerous factors affect the time taken in the whole process of digestion. Gender, age, and type of food eaten determine how long the body would take to complete the process of digestion.

According to doctors, the process of food digestion is slower in women when compared to men. Age plays a vital role in digestion. As a person ages, the process of digestion naturally slows down.

The food that one eats determines the time it will take for digestion. If a person eats something easier to digest, digestion will speed up. On the other hand, if a person eats complex food, then digestion automatically slows down.

Why Does It Take That Long For Food To Digest?

Food digestion includes various stages. Each stage has to be completed, before moving on to the next stage. Digestion begins the very moment when food enters a person’s mouth. The food is chewed with the help of teeth and saliva that converts food into a smaller, and easy-to-digest form.

Entry into the stomach is also a crucial activity. Once food enters the stomach, various enzymes and acids are released which break down the food. After food enters the small intestine, more enzymes from the pancreas and bile from the liver are secreted for a further breakdown of food. After the breakdown, the nutrients are absorbed by the bloodstream. Food stays in the small intestine for 2 to 6 hours.

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Transit through the small intestine is equally time-consuming. Subsequently, entry into the large intestine takes place. Once the entire absorption of nutrients and water is completed by the small intestine, all that is left is waste. After the large intestine is filled with this waste, it is emptied.

After all these stages the entire processing of the food is completed. One must always take care about eating habits, and the consequential effects on the digestive system.

Conclusion

Digestion is the process that gives us the energy and our body the nutrients to function properly.

One must always see to it that we eat food that doesn’t cause any problems in this process. It is essential to exercise to stay fit and stay healthy. There is no fixed time for the completion of digestion, it depends on the digestive system of the person, the food they eat and, their health conditions. Digestion is a process in which multiple organs perform multiple activities in coordination.

References

  1. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article-abstract/59/3/699S/4732272
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1750-3841.2008.00766.x

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