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.
Dec. 31, 2019
Elizabeth Rajan, M.D.
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.