Not many people are aware of how long it takes your body to fully digest food and to have a bowel movement. As the body requires daily bowel movements it can be difficult to understand how long it took the food to travel through the digestive system.

If someone maintains a good diet that is rich in fiber, it should take them 24 hours to digest their food. However, this can vary slightly from person to person. The length of time that it takes for someone to have a bowel movement depends on many factors, including:

  • Food that was consumed
  • Level of hydration
  • Physical activity
  • Stress
  • General overall health

Your digestion time is slow if it takes more than 72 hours for you to pass a bowel movement. If you are concerned about the length of time, it is taking for you to pass stools, then you shouldn’t ignore the signs. Waste that sits in the colon for too long can lead to it being reabsorbed back into the bloodstream. This can result in a higher risk of illnesses such as diverticulitis or cancer.

There are some simple and effective ways on how to speed up digestion and manage settings of digestion. Keep reading to find out how to speed up digestion without medications or depriving 

Signs of Slow Digestion

It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms related to a sluggish digestive system. Many signs and symptoms may be unexpected, so it is essential to your health to have a clear understanding.

  • Constipation
  • Bowel movements not daily
  • Heartburn
  • Bloating
  • Weight Gain
  • Uncomfortably full after meals

By being aware of the signs to look out for, you can be on your way to knowing how to speed up digestion.

Why You Have Slow Digestion

There are multiple reasons why your digestion could be slower than it should be. If you are concerned about the speed of your slow digestion, it is important to be aware of what can affect it, so you can manage settings of your digestion.

  • Not enough fiber
  • High consumption of processed foods
  • Too much sugary foods
  • Undiagnosed conditions including food allergies

How to Speed up Digestion and Elimination in 9 Natural Ways

1. Perform Regular Exercise

When food is digested, it begins to move throughout the body and digestive system by muscle contractions. When someone does not do enough physical activity, their digestive system can become sluggish as muscle contractions slow down. Lack of physical activity or workouts may cause constipation or general discomfort. Exercise can help boost the contraction of digestive muscles, speeding up the breakdown and passage of food. You can perform a full-body workout each day for 30 minutes to one hour. You can try aerobic exercises that help stimulate bowel movement and get your blood pumping like dancing, running, swimming, and biking.

Don’t forget to do some stretches before beginning your routine to enhance its effects and to prevent you from pulling a muscle.

2. Drink Plenty of Water 

Drinking enough water has many health benefits. But in terms of speeding up digestion, water helps to keep your stool moist. As water helps to lubricate and soften your stool, it is easy to release from your body. Water also helps improve and reduce the time your body takes to digest food.

On the same note, dehydration may result in hard and dry stool, which causes the digestive tract to struggle in eliminating wastes. Drink at least eight glasses of water every day to keep your gut well-hydrated. You can also eat foods that are high in water content such as watermelon, peaches, cucumber, and zucchini so you have other sources of water. Avoid staying thirsty for an extended time as much as possible so you won't end up having difficulties in releasing waste.

3. Consume More Fiber

Dietary fiber plays a crucial role in your digestive health. It may not be digested in the intestines, but it can help add bulk to your stool and help keep food moving in your digestive tract. Aside from that, fiber aids in retaining water in the bowel to make your digestive waste soft for an easier release. Fiber also helps to stimulate the bowels, by pushing food along throughout the digestive system. The recommended daily dietary fiber intake is 25 g for women and 38 g for men. Foods rich in fiber include avocados, raspberries, artichokes, lentils, oats, and chia seeds.

Other great sources of fiber include:

  • Whole Grains
  • Fresh Fruits
  • Leafy Vegetables
  • Cauliflower
  • Whole-wheat Flour
  • Wheat Bran
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Beans

Remember: When you start introducing more fiber-rich foods into your diet, this needs to be gradual. If you consume fiber too quickly, it could lead to gas and bloating.

4. Improve Your Diet

Eating highly processed foods can contribute to constipation as they may contain low levels of water and fiber. These foods also contain high amounts of sugar and salt that can interfere with metabolism. Sugary drinks, for example, have high levels of fructose, a simple sugar that the liver metabolizes. High amounts of it may change your body’s fullness signals. As a result, you eat more, and this overwhelms your intestines leading to indigestion or constipation. On top of loading your diet with fiber, limit your fat intake. A high-fat diet may lead to heartburn. Consume lean proteins, like lean meat and fish, instead. They are easier to digest and lower in fat content.

To support your overall gut health and to help speed up digestion, you should avoid or reduce your intake of processed foods, including:

  • Refined Sugar
  • Refined Grains
  • Fried Foods
  • Fatty Foods
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol

5. Take Supplements That Promote a Healthy Digestion

  • Digestive Enzymes:  Pancreatic and Small Intestine enzymes
  • Probiotics for Gut:  Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species
  • Fiber Formulas:  Apple Pectin, Psyllium Husk, Oat bran
  • Formulas For Leaky Gut:  Aloe Vera, Glutamine, Cat’s Claw, Marshmallow, Licorice root, Okra
  • Laxatives to Increase Motility:  Cascara Sagrada, Dandelion, Artichoke, Rhubarb, Senna, Aloe

With Love,

Dr. G