Generally speaking, the food that you eat will stay in your stomach between 24 to 72 hours. The exact time it takes for your food to move through your digestive tract will depend on the types and amount of food that you have eaten. The rate will also depend on different factors like your metabolism, gender, and if you have any digestive problems that may speed up or increase the process.
What Happens When Food Enters Your Digestive Tract?
At first, the food you take in travels quite fast through the digestive system. It will then move through the stomach, then to the small and large intestines, within six to eight hours. Once it reaches your large intestines, the contents that have been partially digested can stay there for one day and digested even more. A study showed that food stays in the large intestines of women longer than men. The rate of digestion also depends on what kind of food you have eaten. Fish and meat can take up to two days before they are fully digested. Meanwhile, the fats and proteins that the digested fish and meat have are made up of complex molecules, which means it will take the body a lot longer to pull them apart.
Meanwhile, fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber. They can move through your digestive system in less than a day. There’s a reason why you need to eat more fruits and veggies. They are rich in fiber, which helps your digestive system run more efficiently. Candy bars and other sugary junk foods as well as processed foods are digested in a few hours, leaving you feeling hungry again.
What Happens During Digestion?
When your body breaks down the food that you eat and takes out all the nutrients it needs to function, the process is referred to as Digestion. The body then removes anything that’s left, which are considered as waste products. Your digestive system is comprised of five parts. These include the stomach, esophagus, mouth, stomach, small and large intestines. As you ingest food, the glands inside your mouth releases saliva as you chew.
Your saliva contains enzymes that will digest the starch in the food, which results into a mushy mass referred to as a bolus that is much easier to swallow. After swallowing that bolus, it moves down the esophagus, which is the tube that connects your mouth and stomach. The lower esophageal sphincter will open, allowing the food to move to the stomach. The food will then be broken down further by the acids inside the stomach. A mushy mixture of partially digested food and stomach acids creates what they refer to as chyme. This partially digested food then moves into the small intestine.
The liver and the pancreas then adds their own digestive juices. The enzymes provided by the pancreas is responsible for breaking down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates while the bile that comes from the gall bladder will break down the fat. The nutrients and the vitamins, as well as the water from the food you ate will move through the walls of the small intestines and into the bloodstream. The remaining food particles that wasn’t digested will be moved into your large intestines where the remaining nutrients and water are absorbed. Whatever remains becomes solid waste.
Just like all the other parts of your body, your digestive system may also suffer some problems. These include:
- Acid reflux
- Celiac disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- And lactose intolerance
Tips For Better Digestion
There are a few things you need to do if you wish to prevent digestive issues like constipation and diarrhea. Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are rich in fiber, which encourages better digestive function. You should also limit your consumption of processed food and red meat. You also need to include probiotics in your diet like yogurt. You also need to exercise every day.
Keeping yourself physically active means your digestive tract is active as well. Talking a brief walk after meals can help prevent bloating and gas. Aside from helping you stay physically fit, you’ll also have lesser risk for certain cancer types and other digestive problems. It is also important for you to get enough rest and sleep to lower your risks of becoming obese, which could result in issues with your digestive tract. Lastly, you should also learn how to manage your stress. Too much stress could worsen pre-existing digestive issues like heartburn as well as irritable bowel syndrome.
Admit it or not, you do not give that much attention to your digestive system unless your experiencing some problems like constipation, bloating, gas, and more. It is important to watch what you eat and to always stay as physically active as possible so that your digestive tract remains in optimum health.