Get To Know Your “Transit Time” For Digestive Health

It’s like a commute time… but for your food. 

Here’s something you probably don’t consider often. After you eat something, how long does it take your body to process it and move it on out? And what can it tell you about your health? It turns out, quite a lot, actually. Meet your transit time.

What is transit time?

Transit time is what we in the nutrition world call the time it takes for ingested food to travel through the body and then be eliminated. In layman’s terms, how long it takes for your food to become poop! Our digestive tracts are about thirty feet long and include the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines. It can take food about 24 – 72 hours to fully move through our bodies. That means something you ate three days ago may just be making its way out of your system today.

Transit time can vary from person to person. In fact, even men and women have different transit times. Why? Well, women actually have a longer distal colon than men. Who knew!? For that reason, the average transit time for a woman is 47 hours while men average at 33 hours. This could explain why women tend to have a higher rate of IBS than men.

What can impact transit time?

There are many things that impact the rate at which food moves through your body. Some of the more common things that can impact transit time are stress, which foods you eat, and an imbalanced microbiome.

Stress can decrease transit as it causes the body to produce less digestive enzymes. With less enzymes, food is not broken down as efficiently and can sit for a longer time in the digestive tract.

Eating foods that your body is sensitive or allergic to can also decrease or increase transit time. Typically, a food allergy or sensitivity will irritate the gut lining. This can cause digestive distress like constipation and diarrhea. If you experience diarrhea or constipation for more than three days, you should go to a doctor and get it checked out.

Finally, an imbalanced microbiome can also impact transit time. In a healthy gut, bacteria primarily breakdown carbohydrates, but when these strains of bacteria are lower they begin to breakdown proteins. This can slow down the rate at which food moves through the digestive tract for a much longer transit time.

How to check your transit time

Here’s a little trick to check your transit time. Eat corn! And then er… keep an eye out. It’s a little gross but you should be able to spot corn in your stool. From there you can then calculate how long it took to travel through your system. All things considered, it’s a pretty simple way you can check in with your digestive health at home to know what’s going on inside.

Again, two days is the average transit time for women. If you do find that your transit time is lagging,  you might benefit from supplemental support. Check out Flatter Me, a digestive enzyme that can help your body break down large food particles, or Gut Instinct, a probiotic that can support a healthy microbiome.

To ensure your gut is healthy and you have an optimal transit time, you can also aim for these important signs for healthy digestion:

  • Pooping daily.
  • Your poop is well formed and doesn’t break apart when you flush it.
  • Your poop sinks to the bottom of the toilet and doesn’t float.
  • You don’t experience any painful bloating.
  • Not having visible pieces of food in your poop. (Corn aside for transit time testing.)

If you can say yes to the above, then you are on your way to optimal digestive health!

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