How Long Does It Take to Digest Food?


Food generally takes about 24 to 72 hours to entirely move across the digestive tract. If you are wondering why the range is mentioned as 24- 48 hours; the answer is it depends on the kind of food you have consumed, and greatly depends on your age.  To know more aspects to how long does it take to digest food, read on. Factors such as gender, the position of the body, nature of food and metabolism can cause digestion to speed up or slow down as well.


The Process of Digestion – Broken Down

Generally, food travels pretty fast through from your oesophagus, through the stomach and small intestine to the large intestine in about six hours. This is the fastest part of the process where all that you chew and swallow, ends up in the large intestine within half a dozen hours.

Once, the contents reach the large intestine, they settle there for a while to digest all the partially digested food that may be present in there. This is a kind of final run of the body to absorb maximum nutrients. The time duration for which the food stays in the large intestine surprisingly varies for men and women. For women, it is about forty-seven hours and for men, it is around thirty-three hours.

Digestion Also Depends on What You Eat

Digestion has surprisingly different rates in vegetarians and non-vegetarians. The obvious reason being the contents and nature of the food constituents. Seafood and meat take as much as forty-eight hours to get digested at times as they contain fats and proteins that the body intends to absorb completely but slowly. On the other hand, vegetables and fruits which are powerhouses of fibre take less than a day to move out of the system. The best part is the high fibre food products help the food to move in a much faster rate in the intestines.

Now, it’s time to reveal a tiny secret, do you know why you feel so hungry when you eat junk food? The answer to that is processed, junk food, fast food, sugary food and artificially sweetened candy bars are digested almost in a matter of few hours. Since they are very easy to breakdown by the body, it digests quickly and leaves you hungry again.

Tips for Better Digestion

In order to keep food smoothly moving through your system and prevent both uncomfortable extremes of digestion such as constipation and diarrhoea, you can follow these simple steps.

Include more whole grains, fruit, greens and vegetables in your diet. Keep processed food and red meat at bay. You need to exercise every day, get plenty of sleep and include the right amount of probiotics in your diet. Also, if you are still wondering how long does it take to digest food, and you want to hasten the process, drinks lots of water and manage stress well. Also, do not sit in one place for a long time in a day especially with a bad posture.


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