Having healthy digestion is crucial in everybody’s health. In fact, some may pass with extremely unpleasant painful symptoms by having slow digestion. Also, slow digestion and long transit time can make you put on weight easily. In this article, we will show you How to make your food digest faster after eating naturally without using any colon cleansing supplements.
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How Long Does it Take to Digest Food?
Digestion pattern differs from one to another, your transit time (the time which the intestine takes for complete digestion) can range from 10 hours to over three days. The transit time varies from one to another, according to many factors like the diet followed, the amount of water we drink daily, daily activity, genetics, and overall health.
After eating, the food takes 6-8 hours to pass through your stomach and intestines. Then, once it enters your colon, it can take about 36 – 59 hours to process.
In fact, sluggish bowel and slow digestion can prolong the transit time and mke waste stay longer in the colon. Eventually, stool can be reabsorbed back in the bloodstream and irritate the intestinal linings. Then, healthy fast digestion is essential to improve your overall body and health.
So, if the food takes in your digestive system over 72 hours for complete elimination, then, your digestion is considered slow. Slow digestion may increase the risk of yeast infection like candidiasis. Also, slow digestion for a long term can increase the risk of developing colon cancer.
If you think your digestion is slow and want to improve your gut motility to speed your digestion and elimination then, in this article, we will give you some tips to help speed up digestion and what things to do to keep your colon healthy.
Causes of slow digestion:
Some may ask, Why do I feel like my food is not digesting? or my intestine is digesting slowly?
Actually, poor digestion or indigestion can happen for multiple reasons including low activity, dehydration, eating certain kinds of foods that require drinking plenty of water like oatmeal.
Besides, you may suffer from slow digestion as a result of underlying health conditions like gastroparesis.
In fact, gastroparesis is a disease that affects the stomach nerves and prevents emptying food from the stomach normally.
Slow digestion that causes constipation and bloating is one sign that you suffer from poor digestion. Other Symptoms of poor digestion includes:
- Unexpected weight changes.
- Sleep disturbances.
- Low energy and fatigue most of the day.
- Food sensitivities (gluten-intolerance, lactose-intolerance).
- Leaky gut syndrome.
- Auto-immune diseases like multiple sclerosis, celiac,…
A healthy lifestyle and nutrition can help keep your colon healthy, makes your digestion faster, and decrease the risk of colon cancer development.
However, still, early diagnosis especially for people over 50 through undergoing colonoscopy every 3 years is highly recommended. Early diagnosis lowers the risk of complications and increases the chance of successful treatment.
How to make your food digest faster after eating?
If you notice any sign of slow digestion like constipation, bloating and need to digest food faster, here are some tips to make you speed up digestion naturally.
1- Exercise and keep active
Exercising for 30 minutes a day can quickly increase your muscle contractions and help increase gut motility to ensure smooth transition of food through the digestive system. Low daily activity may slow digestion, increase transit time and eventually constipation. Also, you may notice that your bowel movements increase when starting exercises.
Besides, physical activity has many health benefits, as it boosts immunity and lower risk of developing diseases. One study proved that regular cycling can reduce transit time by 14.6 hours.
However, pay attention not to start your workout directly after eating. After eating, your blood travels to your stomach to help digestion. So, relax 30 – 45 minutes before starting any activity.
2- Do not increase meat and carbohydrates in your meals
Actually, meat and refined carbohydrates stripped from fibers, like sugar, flour can slow intestinal muscle contractions and slow your digestion. However, it’s not a good idea to cut out proteins from your meals totally, but instead, you can decrease your daily portions of proteins if you felt you need to quicken your digestion. While for the refined carbs, you better replace them with whole carbs rich in fibers like Paleo diet.
3- Follow fiber-rich diet
Having more fibers in your food will increase the volume of your feces and help speed up your digestion.
Fibers can stimulate the bowel to push digested food out your body and decrease transit time. In fact, fiber-rich foods contains 2 types of fibers that make your digestion faster in different ways:
1- Soluble fibers: fiber rich foods are like whole grains, vegetables and fruits. These fibers absorb water, which soften the stool, and eventually make its elimination easier
2- Insoluble fibers: Increase the stool bulk and push the food through your intestine.
Take care, as fiber-rich foods can make some experience bloating and increase gases. So, if that was the case, increase fiber-rich foods in your meals gradually, also you may take charcoal tablets that can help expel excess gases.
Check out how much fibers you need daily on your meals on this calculator:
4- Include probiotics in your diet
The best way to speed up digestion, heal leaky gut and balance your microbiome is to include more probiotics in your food. However, you can get them from probiotics supplements or get them naturally through food. Foods containing probiotics are like yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut. Probiotics foods contain good bacteria that balance harmful bacteria in your gut. Balancing microbiomes by increasing good bacterial count helps speed up digestion and promote weight loss.
Another way to help increase beneficial bacteria count in your body, is to help them flourish in your gut. In fact, you can do so by eating prebiotics like whole grains and fruits.
5- Drink water
Staying hydrated the whole day by drinking water can make your food digest faster. As getting dehydrated can increase constipation and slow digestion. Water helps smoothen the stool and to pass through the digestive system easily and decrease transit time.
We all know that it is recommended that we drink 8 glasses of water daily. However, you may need to drink more to reach optimum hydration especially when you do workouts.
In contrast to what some might think, some studies proved that water doesn’t slow your digestion by diluting gastric juice. In fact, water helps improve your digestion as it helps break food to smaller units so your body can digest and absorb better.
However, to be on the safe side wait 30 minutes after drinking a cup of water before you start eating. Then, after finishing your meal, wait another hour. By doing so, you boost your digestion by drinking water and let your digestive enzymes do their job properly.
Also, you can get fluids from foods high in water content like cucumber and watermelon and hot drinks like peppermint and tea. However, never depend on them as your main water supply.
Although caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea can cause dehydration, they help speed up digestion.
You can use water intake calculator to specify more your daily needs:
How can I empty my stomach quickly?
Besides, some use this tip to empty their stomach quickly. It will probably make you go to the bathroom frequently, but it will cleanse your intestines and improve digestion. Try drinking water on an empty stomach in the morning, as it is the best time when your bowel moves.
6- Avoid eating large meals
Eating large amounts of food makes it hard on your digestive system to digest food, and result in slow digestion.
However, you may not notice that overeating can slow your digestion if you are used to eating the same large portion daily. Try to eat smaller portions on your meals and notice if you feel better then, stick with smaller meals.
Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean that you have to cut a big portion from your meals, as your body will need to get enough energy and nutrients daily to stay active.
7- Chew Food well:
No doubt, your eating habits can contribute to slow poor digestion like swallowing food before chewing it well. Then, to speed digestion leave a chance for the food go through the first phase properly which takes place in your mouth. In fact, to have faster digestion, the food must reach your intestine as small units so gastric enzymes can break it easily to even smaller units that become absorbed in your bloodstream and reduce indigestion.
First, your teeth will start crushing food into small pieces to be easy to swallow and reach your stomach. Also, saliva breaks carbs like sugar during chewing to be easier to absorb.
Also, proper chewing helps you reach satiety after eating less amount, which may contribute to weight loss.
8- Eat healthy fats and avoid Fast Food
There are two kinds of fats, and both have different effects on how fast you digest:
1- Healthy fats: present in avocados, nuts, olive oil, and fatty fish. They have many health benefits including making food slip faster through the digestive system.
2- Unhealthy fats: present in fast food like chips, burgers, which contain large amounts of trans and saturated fats, which are harder to digest and take longer to be eliminated. Also, junk food contains high salt content that absorbs water from feces and makes it harder to get rid of.
9- Keep Stress Levels Low
It’s common to experience stomach upset when passing through stressful situations in your life. These events might be exams, interviews, marriage proposals,..etc. Actually, you might feel your stomach is empty, stomachache, bloated, even that you might experience constipation or diarrhea before starting this big event. Luckily, these symptoms do not last long as they subside after your stress is gone. But, if you suffer from chronic stress, then, these symptoms might stay for longer.
In fact, this is true evidence that your psychological status influences your stomach and the digestion process directly.
So, why exactly can stress cause slow digestion and eventually constipation?
Actually, when you’re in a stressful situation, your body becomes more alert, which is called fight-or-flight mechanism. In this case, your adrenaline is high which raises your blood pressure, cortisol, and makes your heart beat faster.
In this stressful situation, your body ignores digestion or makes it its second priority which slows transit time.
Also, this can affect your appetite and alter your appetite either by increasing your hunger or decreasing it. So, if you’re feeling particularly stressed, try a stress-reducing tactic before eating.
Study showed that people who ate while they are stressed experienced increased bloating and lower appetite. Also, stress can aggravate symptoms of gastrointestinal conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) irritable bowel syndrome (IBS),and gastroesophageal reflux disease.
10- Sleep well
Studies showed that interrupted sleep can negatively affect digestion causing pain and indigestion.
Also, not falling into a deep sleep (high quality sleep can cause you bigger problems. In fact, studies linked sleep disturbance with increased risk of developing gastrointestinal diseases. These diseases include:
- Peptic ulcer disease (PUD).
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
- inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
So, to make your intestines digest faster and avoid further gastrointestinal complications, make sure you have enough sleep.
How can I speed up digestion before bed?
Here are some tips to digest food faster before bed:
Avoid eating large heavy meals before going to bed to leave a chance for your digestive system to rest. So, instead eating right before bed,
- Have your last meal 3 hours before sleeping.
- Drink daily one or 2 cups of water before bedtime.