How long does it take to digest food — from the time you eat it to the time you excrete it?
Answer From Elizabeth Rajan, M.D.
Digestion time varies among individuals and between men and women. After you eat, it takes about six to eight hours for food to pass through your stomach and small intestine. Food then enters your large intestine (colon) for further digestion, absorption of water and, finally, elimination of undigested food. It takes about 36 hours for food to move through the entire colon. All in all, the whole process — from the time you swallow food to the time it leaves your body as feces — takes about two to five days, depending on the individual.
Elizabeth Rajan, M.D.
Dec. 31, 2019
From Mayo Clinic to your inbox
Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health. Click here for an email preview.
ErrorEmail field is required
ErrorInclude a valid email address
To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which
information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with
other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could
include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected
health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health
information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of
privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on
the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.
Thank you for subscribing!
You'll soon start receiving the latest Mayo Clinic health information you requested in your inbox.
Sorry something went wrong with your subscription
Please, try again in a couple of minutes
See more Expert Answers
- Goldman L, et al., eds. Disorders of gastrointestinal motility. In: Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Elsevier; 2020. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Nov. 11, 2019.
- Normal function. International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders. https://aboutconstipation.org/normal-function.html. Accessed Nov. 11, 2019.
- Naish J, et al., eds. The alimentary system. In: Medical Sciences. 3rd ed. 2019. Elsevier; 2019. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Nov. 6, 2019.