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How Long Does It Take To Digest Food?

How Long Does It Take To Digest Food?

By Dr. Patrick Lovegrove Medically Reviewed by Lindsay Langley, BSN, RN, CHT
Posted Monday, February 27th, 2023
How Long Does It Take To Digest Food?

A common question about digestion is how long does it take to digest food? Here is our brief answer to this common concern of people.

Digestion is a complex process that begins when we start eating and continues until all food is broken down into small molecules that the body can absorb. Generally, digestion takes between 24 to 72 hours. Depending on what types of food you’ve eaten, how much liquid you’ve had with your meal, and your digestion speed.

How does Digestion work?

The digestion process starts as soon as we put food into our mouths. Saliva in the mouth helps break down larger food particles, making it easy to swallow. Food then passes through the esophagus and enters the stomach, where digestion begins. The stomach produces acids that break down proteins and help kill off potentially harmful bacteria in the food. This process takes around two hours in total.

Next, digestion moves through the small intestine. It is where the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder enzymes break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins into smaller molecules like amino acids and fatty acids. It can take 8-10 hours for digestion to complete this stage of digestion.

Finally, absorb these nutrients through the walls of the intestines into your bloodstream before it distributed throughout your body for energy or storage. This process generally takes about 12 to 24 hours for most people.

However, digestion times can vary significantly from person to person depending on health conditions and other circumstances. For example, suppose you have an underlying digestive disorder like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

In that case, digestion could take significantly longer than usual due to inflammation or damage caused by these conditions. On the other hand, if you’ve eaten a light meal without any heavy proteins or fats, it could digest even faster than average. How? There will be less material that needs breaking down in the stomach and intestines. Digestion time varies widely depending on individual dietary requirements and digestive issues. However, it typically takes 24-72 hours to complete its entire cycle of breaking down foods into absorbable nutrients for our bodies.

Do we hope you find your answer in our article How Long Does It Take To Digest Food? If you want more helpful medical blogs, keep reading on our website.

About the author

Dr. Patrick Lovegrove