How long does it take to digest food?

From the time you put a bite of food in your mouth to the time you take a dump…what’s the time frame? I’ve tried to find a definitive answer and have found anything from 9 hours to 48 hours. The 9 was anecdotal from a friend, the 48 from a now-forgotten website.

Ok, I had a fairly large snack of steamed veggies, tuna and parmesan at about 1 am Central time. When can I expect to take the dump that will eliminate all I’ve eaten this past day plus what I just ate? 10 am? That would be sweet!


How long does it take food to digest?

Source: McAleer, Neil. The Body Almanac, p. 186.

Put a whole bottle of green food coloring in a serving of (non-instant) oatmeal and find out for yourself! Actually, for better results and if you have biologist friends, some use little plastic pieces that they mix with an animal’s food and then look for them in the feces.

Long story short, it might not all come out in one dump. You can see that if you OD in lettuce or bell peppers with their skins.

Corn on the cob also makes a good tracer.

Perhaps a little TMI, but I’ve thrown up food (recently) in the morning that I had eaten over 12 hours ago the previous night. It wasn’t even digested (I could still identify it easily). What does that mean? Did I eat too much and overload my stomach, or did I just not chew well enough? :dubious:

Would depend on the food, no?

With Mexican food, five to ten minutes.

I’m here all week. Please try the fajitas.

The Body Almanac quote presents an average number. Individuals vary greatly from this average, and different meals will take different times even for one individual. Liquids will pass through the stomach much more quickly than solids and some solids can stimulate faster movement than others. I would believe 9 hours or 48 hours as a time, though those would be rare to always happen. Your system continues to work, though at a slower rate, while you sleep so that also affects gross times.

Normal defecation is defined as anywhere from 3 times a day to 3 times a week, so defecation and the time of delivery of food to the colon are separate questions. People have some voluntary control as well, so they can train themselves to go only once a day or at a particular convenient time.

There’s no one good answer to this question. Too much variation involved.

rip-di-di-di-di-dip-dip it’s your birthday!

We had a thread a number of months ago discussing this, and some medical Dopers reported that, for people with certain digestive problems, it can take only a few minutes for food to go from mouth to anus.

Ah, here’s the thread. Fascinating.

I couldn’t find it in the Wiki article on blowing Chunks but I seem to recall that sometimes it’s not only the stomach contents that are heaved but also some intestine contents. Wiki does reference “fecal vomiting” (all together: ewwww…) so I assume there could be something in between the two, so it’s possible that you had some antiperistalsis combined with not chewing too well meaning that some of your intestinal contents got vomited?

Or, it just sat in your stomach too long, what do I know? :slight_smile:

I didn’t mention rapid transit or fecal vomiting because they’re pathological conditions. If you have them you damn well know it. They simply don’t apply to talk about normally healthy human bodies and they just serve to confuse the issue.

It’s like talking about bruises and having somebody come in and say that Extremely-Deadly’s Syndrome can cause bruising, without mentioning that the only two people in the world to have have suffered from it lived in Ghana in 1653.

I realize that extremes are always going to be dragged into threads so I’m just hitting my head against the wall here but the one critical memory to take out of this is not the ickyness of fecal vomiting but that IT DOESN’T APPLY TO YOU.*

  • And if it does, get thee to an emergency room. STAT.

This probably isn’t what you’re specifically asking, but one can consume simple nutrients like glucose and amino acids (the AA’s themselves, not bound into polypeptides) orally and process them into your body in a matter of minutes. I also imagine any “digestion” is negligible that waste products are minimal.

Maybe not related. I just think it’s awesome.

I was just wondering if there was something in between fecal vomiting and stomach vomiting. It’s just that the existence of fecal vomiting doesn’t totally rule out intestinal vomiting, whereas the non-existence of intestinal vomiting might make it difficult to vomit from the colon.