How Long Does it Take to Digest Food

How Long Does it Take to Digest Food

Digestion is an integral part of our lives. A sound digestive system helps us to live longer and go on with daily activities. If you are looking for how long does it take to digest food, the complete digestion takes up to 72 hours. Moreover, digestion also depends on the type of food intake and the existence of the digestive issue. Today we are exploring various aspects of digestion and how long does it take to digest food. We will dig into how long it takes to digest food and the best food for digestion problems.

How long does it take to digest food? What should you eat to improve digestion?

Here are the answers to your questions.

Digestion Process

First, let us check out the different processes of digestion. Digestion has many steps, and every effort is essential. Therefore, if anyone steps are hindered, then this can lead to digestive problems.

1. Oral Stage

When you are chewing food, the particles break down and mix with saliva. Amylase, an enzyme, acts upon carbohydrates present in the food to break down. Further on, the food particles become soft. Therefore, it becomes easily soluble. The soft mass is known as a bolus.

Here, the food moves from the mouth to the esophagus. Peristalsis helps the food to move down to the stomach.

2. Gastric Stage

The proteins in the food break down in the stomach with the help of pepsin. Here, stomach acids play a crucial role. They prevent any food-borne illnesses. Stomach acids destroy the viruses and bacteria present in the food. Hence, this stage is quite vital.

Acidic fluids, gastric juices, and enzymes break the food and turn into chyme.

3. Intestinal Stage

Nutrients and water are removed from the digested food. These nutrients and water then pass through the small intestine walls. Further, they are added to the bloodstream and then travel to various body regions. Then, they build and repair in those areas.

The undigested and unabsorbed food travels to the large intestine. At this moment, even more water and nutrients are absorbed. The remaining stay in the rectum. Those get removed during bowel movements.

How Long Does It Take For Food To Settle

As you are looking for how long does it take to digest food, food takes 24 hours to 72 hours to digest. This is the period it moves the digestive tract. In the initial stages, food travels rapidly through the digestive system. In the next eight hours, the food has made its way to the stomach, large and small intestines.

So, when the food has reached the large intestine, it can stay for a day to break down further. The average transit time of how long does it take to digest food are as follows:

  • Gastric emptying- 2 to 5 hours
  • Small bowel transit- Up to 6 hours
  • Colonic transit- It can take from 10 to 59 hours
  • Whole gut transit- This will up to 72 hours.

Moreover, your digestion also depends on the kind of food you have intake. Pork can take up to 6.5 hours to digest. The egg takes half an hour and fish and chicken take 2 hours. The fats and proteins in these foods are complex. Therefore, they take a longer period of time to pull apart.

On the contrary, vegetables and food high in fiber can move through the system in less than 24 hours. Food high in fiber makes your digestive system and track run even more efficiently. Sugar candies or anything sweet is very easy to digest. The body pulls apart in a few hours.

So, if someone enquires how long it takes to digest food, the answer should be that different food takes different times to digest.

The other variables of time in food digestion are:

Amount and type of food

As mentioned earlier, fatty food takes time to digest. Food are digested in less than 24 hours in case you are seeking help how long does it take to digest food that is rich in fiber. And, sugar candies, pastries, ice cream take lesser time compared to all other food items. The amount of food intake also decides your digestion time. If you have large portions, it will take a longer time to digest. So, we recommend that instead of three large meals, you can divide your meals into four to five meals for easier digestion.


In a 1980s study, it was discovered that transit time for women is 47 hours. Whereas for men, it is 33 hours.

Digestive issues

Time duration of how long does it take to digest food not only depends on food type. Digestion can slow down due to digestive problems. So, if you have any digestive issues, then your is have a slower digestion time. Digestive issues include acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, and Crohn’s disease.

Hence, several factors lead to different digestion times. Therefore, you must consider all the above factors before analysing your digestion time.

How to improve digestion?

Now as you know how long does it take to digest food, ou should look for ways to improve it. You can improve your digestion by following multiple ways. The processes are simple and easy to follow. Hence, you will face no problem in following the ways and enhancing your digestion. So, you can follow the following steps to improve digestion and prevent diarrhea and constipation.

Eat a well-balanced diet.

We will always recommend that a person must eat healthy and fibre-rich food to have a balanced diet. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes help the food move rapidly through the digestive system. Fiber-rich food also helps in weight loss and prevents weight loss.

It is worth noting though meat is rich in protein, they are hard to digest and thus takes a longer time of how long does it take to digest food. Red meat takes even more time to digest. Hence, meat should be consumed sparingly. Fatty and sugary food must be avoided as it can disturb the bacteria in the gut. Therefore, such food takes time to digest.

Stay hydrated

Drinking water on an empty stomach is highly beneficial. Moreover, water drunks on an empty stomach digest automatically. Other liquids and beverages such as coffee, tea, green tea help to prevent constipation. This also moves the digestive system rapidly.

Exercise Regularly

Digestive tract benefits from exercising regularly. Even walks can help reduce gas, bloating, and constipation. Therefore, we recommend even mild exercises to keep your body and digestive system healthy.

Dental Hygiene

Digestion starts from the oral stage. Hence, teeth problems can lead to problems in a critical step. Older people with dental issues can have problems chewing and lead to improper digestion. Visit the dentist regularly and brush and floss regularly as well.

Take probiotics

If you have imbalanced bacteria in your body, probiotics will reduce bacteria’s gut growth. We have listed some food rich in probiotics:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso
  • Kimchi
  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Fermented vegetables

Therefore, consuming food rich in probiotics help in proper digestion and moves your digestive system rapidly.

Digestive enzymes

Digestive enzymes help people with low-stress management, low stomach acid, dental hygiene, and digestive issues. The digestive enzymes supplements can help in restoring the digestive system. Discuss your supplements with your doctor and then take them.

Stress management

When you are stress, it can slow the process of digestion. Moreover, this will also lead to heartburn, bloating, and cramping. Manage stress levels through meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises. More importantly, it is necessary to get at least 8 hours of sleep each day.

What are the viable digestive problems?

Digestive problems can disrupt digestion. This will further lead to other problems. Hence, you must work to solve these digestive problems and find remedies. We have listed some of the common digestive problems:

Acid Reflux

Acid reflux or heartburn is a common problem. A lot of people face it. You may find yourself having acid reflux at least once a week. The loosening of LES causes acid reflux. You will feel nauseated and vomit. This generally happens after heavy meals or fatty meals. Hence, we recommend not having heavy meals and lying down only after 2 hours of a meal.


It is mainly lesser bowel movements than usual. When you have constipation, the stool is quite firm and hard to pass. Further constipation leads to abdominal pain and bloating. Feeling constipated all the time isn’t a good feeling. Hence, eat healthily and exercise regularly, not to feel constipated.

Lactose Intolerance

This phenomenon is the lack of an enzyme needed to break down sugar molecules in dairy products. People with lactose intolerance can hardly consume dairy products. Therefore, if you are lactose intolerant, it is best to avoid dairy products.

Celiac Disease

Your immune system damages and attacks your intestines when consuming gluten food. Therefore, a lot of people are opting for gluten-free food nowadays to improve the time of how long it take to digest food.

Irritable Bowel System or IBS

This causes diarrhea, gas, and constipation. But, this is not related to any kind of cancer. So, you can opt for medicines to cure them.


This creates small sacks or pouches in your stomach. If your stool gets stuck on those pouches, then those will lead to infection and inflammation. The symptoms include loose stools, abdominal pains, and sometimes fever. Therefore, if you are facing any of these symptoms, then consult with your doctor.

Inflammatory bowel disease

These include ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. These lead to inflammation in your intestine, leading to pain, ulcers, bloody diarrhea, malnutrition, and weight loss. Moreover, if not treated properly, these can also lead to colon cancer. So, take precautions at an early stage.

Hence, these were some of the common digestive problems. To improve your digestion, we have also listed some foods that lead to healthy digestion.

What should you consume to improve digestion?

Your digestive tract is highly essential for you. A healthy digestive system leads to the absorption of nutrients into your bloodstream and elimination waste products. When you have a weak digestive system and look for how long does it take to digest food, there are a few things to look after. Therefore, it is necessary to have good digestion and eat healthily.

Below we have listed the 19 best food for digestion problems that improves the duration of how long does it take to digest food. Go through the foods and enjoy good digestion and improve it.

1. Yogurt

Lactic acid bacteria ferment yogurt. It is made of milk. Yogurt is made of probiotics, and these are good bacteria living in your digestive tract. Moreover, this keeps your gut healthy.

Probiotic naturally occurs in the gut. But, increasing it through yogurt intake will improve your digestion. A lot of people eat yogurt after their meal. It is beneficial and healthy.

2. Apples

Apples are rich in soluble fiber, pectin. It bypasses digestion in the small intestine and is then broken down by the colon’s friendly bacteria. It increases your stool volume. Therefore, it is highly beneficial for people facing constipation. Moreover, it also decreases the risk of intestinal inflammation.

3. Kefir

This is a cultural dairy product. It comes from adding kefir grains to milk. These results from adding bacteria and yeast to milk. These have great digestive benefits. Kefir aids lactose digestion. This lowers cramping, bloating, and gas.

Moreover, kefir intake decreases intestinal inflammation. Hence, improving the digestion process.

4. Fennel

Fennel is generally added to increase food’s flavor. The fiber in the fennel helps improving regularity in the digestive tract and prevents constipation. Fennel also has antispasmodic, which relaxes the muscle in the digestive tract. This action reduces bloating, cramping, and flatulence. Therefore, adding fennel to your soup will enhance the flavor as well as improve your digestion.

5. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds form a gelatin-like substance around your stomach supporting bacteria growth in the gut. Therefore, promoting healthy stools and bowel regularity. You can add chia seeds to your tea or have it with warm water and honey. Moreover, chia seeds also help to reduce weight. Hence, reducing weight and excess fat also leads to a healthy digestive system.

6. Whole grains

Whole grain must include 100 percent germ, bran, and endosperm. Oats, faro, and quinoa are fiber-packed. Therefore, these reduce constipation and lead to bacteria growth in the gut.

7. Papaya

Papaya has papain. During digestion, papaya breaks down proteins. This aids protein digestion. Papain also relieves and ease IBS. Therefore, add papaya to your diet and improve your digestion.

8. Tempeh

Tempeh comes from fermented soybeans. Fermentation leads to the breaking of an anti-nutrient, phytic acid. Fermentation improves nutrients absorption and digestion. Moreover, tempeh is a good source of probiotics. Therefore, this improves diarrhea, improve digestion, regularity, and bloating.

9. Kombucha

This is a fermented tea. This comes by adding bacteria, yeast, and sugar to green and black tea. Then, it goes for fermentation for seven days or more. A probiotic glut is produced that improves digestive problems. Moreover, it also heals stomach ulcers.

10. Beets

Beetroots are a good source of fiber. One hundred thirty-six grams of beetroot contains 3.4 gms of fiber. Therefore, the higher the fiber content, the higher are your chances of improving digestion. Hence, add beetroots to your salad, blended, or picked into a smoothie.

11. Miso

Miso comes from fermented soybeans added with kijo and salt. This also contains probiotics. This increases bacteria in the gut. Hence, reducing intestinal diseases and digestive issues.

12. Kimchi

Kimchi comes from fermented cabbage. This also promotes the growth of bacteria in the colon. The more the fermentation, the higher the contents of the probiotic. Moreover, this also improves your bowel health.

13. Ginger

Ginger adds spice to your food. When added with tea, it increases aroma and flavor. It is a traditional Eastern medication. Moreover, it also prevents nausea and improves digestion. This also accelerates gastric emptying. Therefore, ginger reduces heartburn, stomach discomfort, and nausea.

14. Green Vegetables

Dark green veggies are a great source of insoluble fibers. Green vegetables are a fantastic source of magnesium. Hence, it relieves constipation and improves muscle contractions in the gastrointestinal tract. You will get benefit from brussels sprouts, spinach, broccoli, and other green leafy vegetables.

Hence, try adding more greens to your diet.

15. Sauerkraut

Shredded cabbage fermented with lactic acid makes sauerkraut. Hence, fermentation leads to probiotics. Seventy-one grams of sauerkraut contains twenty-eight bacterial strains. Therefore, leading to good bacteria in your gut. Also, sauerkraut generously breaks down food particles. Hence, leading to excellent and easy digestion.

16. Natto

This is also made of fermented soybeans. This is eaten plainly. You can spice it up with soya sauce, kimchi, raw eggs, and green onion. You can also have it with boiled rice. Natto has probiotics helping as a defense mechanism against harmful toxins and bacteria. It also increases gut bacteria.

Moreover, the fiber contents improve stools and decrease constipation.

17. Salmon

Omega-3 fatty acids in Salmon reduce body inflammation. People suffering from inflammatory diseases and other digestive issues have gut inflammation. Hence, Salmon improves digestion by reducing inflammation. Salmon is excellent to fish rich in protein as well.

18. Bone broth

Bone broth is easily made at home by simmering the connective tissues and bones of animals. The gelatine derives glycine and amino acid glutamine. The amino acids help pass food easily in the digestive tract. Moreover, glutamine helps intestinal wall functioning.

19. Peppermint

It is found mostly all over the world. Peppermint oil comes from peppermint leaves and improves digestive problems. This oil has menthol. Hence, easing IBS, and other problems like nausea, bloating bowel movement problems, and stomach discomfort.

The oil has an incredibly relaxing effect on stomach muscles. Therefore, increasing digestion. It can also increase food movement in the stomach leading to faster and better digestion.

Hence, these were some of the common and easily accessible food items that improve digestion. If you face digestive problems frequently, then you can quickly go for any of the above foods. Moreover, eating healthy, nutritious, fiber-rich, and green vegetables is healthy and improves defense mechanisms and digestion.

Final Thoughts!

How long does it take to digest food? I hope we have been able to answer this question quite efficiently. Digestion is a crucial phenomenon, and any problem with it should be immediately solved. Hence, you must also eat the best food for digestion problems. So, head to your nearby grocery store and grab all the nutritious and fiber-rich food.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How long does it take to digest food?

A: The time it takes for food to be digested varies depending on several factors, such as the type of food consumed and individual differences. On average, it takes approximately 24 to 72 hours for food to pass through the digestive system from ingestion to elimination.

Q: What factors can influence the digestion time of food?

A: Several factors can affect the digestion time of food, including the composition of the meal (e.g., high-fiber or fatty foods take longer to digest), individual metabolism, age, overall health, physical activity levels, and any digestive disorders or conditions.

Q: Are there any specific foods that take longer or shorter to digest?

A: Yes, different foods require varying amounts of time to be digested. High-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, generally take longer to digest due to their complex structure. Fatty foods, such as fried or greasy meals, also tend to take longer to digest compared to other types of food.

Q: Does the digestive process start immediately after eating?

A: Yes, the digestive process begins as soon as you start eating. The act of chewing and swallowing initiates the process, and the food then travels through the esophagus into the stomach, where further breakdown and digestion occur.

Q: What happens to food during digestion?

A: During digestion, food is broken down into smaller particles through mechanical and chemical processes. In the mouth, chewing and saliva help to break down food. In the stomach, the food mixes with stomach acid and digestive enzymes to further break it down. From the stomach, the partially digested food moves to the small intestine, where nutrients are absorbed, and then to the large intestine, where water and electrolytes are absorbed. The remaining waste is eventually eliminated as stool.