How much does the average person know about the digestive process and how it works? Do people know how long that steak or tomato takes to go through the digestive process and give the body energy? Maybe if people knew more about the digestive process and how long it takes, they could use that information to eat more wisely and even lose a little weight. What if people knew how to improve this digestive process?
How Does the Digestive System Work?
Our digestive system has three processes, ingestion, digestion, and elimination.
- Ingestion is the fun part where we enjoy eating a meal or treat with our favorite foods. We enjoy their taste, smell, and texture which all play important parts in the digestive process. Once the food is in our mouths, our tongue, saliva, and teeth play important roles in breaking down food and getting it ready to swallow.
- Once we swallow the food, the upper and lower parts of our digestive system take over. The food is mixed with saliva and enzymes to break it down into usable nutrients.
- The stomach does most of this process by churning and mixing the food to form chyme, which is mixed with stomach secretions including hydrochloric acid. This is a mixture of water, hydrogen ions, and protein. From the stomach, the mixture is released into the small intestine where villi on the surface provide a lot of surfaces for the nutrients to be absorbed. There are enzymes there that break down sugars, proteins, and fat. Yet more enzymes, called peptidases, break down proteins into amino acids. Some people have too few of these enzymes and might need to take digestive health supplements to aid this digestive process. A person can go to bioptimizers.com for additional information.
- At the end of this process, there are amino acids, fatty acids, and sugars that are absorbed into a person’s bloodstream through the intestinal cell walls.
- The third process is that of elimination to get rid of all the parts of food that are not digested and absorbed into the bloodstream. These remnants of the digestive process are passed on to the large intestine or colon where water is removed and the resulting feces is eventually eliminated from the body in bowel movements.
How Fast Does the Digestive System Work?
Some people may be surprised to know that various foods don’t take take the same time to digest. The combination of foods eaten during a meal can affect the digestion time. Eating the right foods and the right combination of foods at the right times makes a difference in how fast nutrients are absorbed and energize the body. Generally, food takes from three to eight hours to be digested and reach the colon. But, that depends on what foods are eaten, how they are eaten, and when they are eaten.
After the food is in the large intestine or colon, it can take an additional 36 hours to finish the digestion process and have the undigested material or feces go through the colon and be eliminated in a bowel movement. The exact timing depends on the individual.
So, a person can get some benefits from the food they eat in three to eight hours, but the full benefit can take a couple of days. It is important to eat regular meals to keep a steady supply of nutrients entering the bloodstream to provide energy and other benefits to the body. It is also important to eat the right foods in the correct combinations. Eating foods with higher fiber content and avoiding processed foods is beneficial.