How To Fuel Your Digestive System And Improve Digestion

how to speed up digestion
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Lots of people think that the food that they eat, no matter what it is, will eventually just pass through their body when they next have a bowel movement – no probs.

But actually, it can take longer than that.

In fact, the time it does take to complete the trip from the moment you open your mouth to eat to the time it comes out of your anus is known as the transit time [1].

And it’s this time that can vary from one person to the next.

Generally speaking, it’s around 24 hours, if you are someone who eats a fiber-rich diet.

The Best Ways To Speed Up Digestion According To Experts

lady digestive enzyme

Other factors determine how low food takes to pass through the body

It will depend on what you ate, what your activity levels are, your stress levels at the time of eating, your personal characteristics, and of course your general health.

Some people get worried if they think the transit time is taking too long – they wonder why their stomach has not worked.

Why do you have slow digestion in the first place?

There could be several reasons why your digestion could be slower than it should be. If you are concerned about slow digestion, here are some reasons to be aware:

  • You aren’t getting enough fiber [2]
  • Perhaps you are eating too many processed, packaged foods [3]
  • Too many sugary foods [4]
  • Undiagnosed medical conditions which can include food allergies [5]

There are natural expert-approved methods to speed your digestion

1) Get in physical activity for about 30 minutes a day 

The food you eat that gets digested moves through your body by means of muscle contractions called peristalsis [6].

So for instance, if you happen to be a couch potato, then you are going to slow down peristalsis and increase the transit time.

You might end up becoming constipated and experience discomfort.

When you exercise, your metabolism gets a boost. This makes muscle contractions occur more frequently. In fact, that’s why you see some people going to the bathroom after they have exercised.

2) Eating more fiber helps to make digestion faster

When you eat fiber-rich foods like leafy veggies and whole grains, with fresh fruit, you are adding bulk to the feces.

This stimulates the bowel to move the food along quicker.

It’s not always a good idea to suddenly start adding huge amounts of fiber to your diet.

Your stomach might react to changes in your diet by making you feel gassy or bloated with cramps – rather introduce fiber over time.

3) Eat yogurt

Probiotic food like yogurt, soft cheeses, and sauerkraut contain live bacteria cultures in them that promote healthy digestion-enhancing bacteria.

4) Eat less meat 

Milk, meat, hard cheese, refined carbs like white sugar, white flour, instant oatmeal, etc. will pass slowly through your digestive tract. They can slow down peristalsis.

5) Drink more water 

We all know how important it is to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.

There are many health benefits and reasons for doing so.

Water helps keep the feces moist, improving the transit time.

Any waste that stays in the colon for too long can easily get reabsorbed back into the bloodstream, irritating the walls of the intestine.

A transit time that takes longer than 72 hours is considered a slow transit time. This can increase the risk of cancer, candidiasis, and diverticulitis.

6) Healthy supplements promote faster, healthier digestion

You get very healthy digestion supplements for a healthy digestive system.

Probiotics, for instance, help to improve digestive health because they contain healthy bacteria and fungi in them.

This helps to break down digestive plaque created by bad gut microorganisms.

What you achieve is total gut balance and excellent digestion of ingested food.

7) Managing your stress

Many people aren’t aware of just how stress can affect overall bodily health.

This will include the speed of the digestive system. Stress has commonly been linked to digestive health conditions such as:

  • Stomach Ulcers
  • Constipation
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Diarrhea

When you experience periods of high stress, your body will battle to properly digest food.

When you undergo high stress, your energy and blood get diverted to focus on other areas of the body.

This takes away much-needed energy that would otherwise have been spent on your digestive system.

Meditation, for instance, has been linked to improving the signs of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Other wonderful stress-relieving techniques are:

  • Acupuncture
  • Yoga 
  • Music therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Deep Breathing

What does a colonoscopy do and should you have one?

Exercising and eating right will help to keep your colon healthy.

But a colonoscopy every three years for people over 50 helps with detecting nearly 90% of colorectal cancers.

You need to keep tabs on your digestive health, especially if you know people in your family with colon cancer.

How does sleep affect digestion?

Not many people are fully aware of the relationship between sleep and the digestive system.

They don’t realize just how these two different bodily functions interact.

We need to examine what happens to the digestive system while you sleep.

Poor sleep can actually affect your gastrointestinal health and slow it down [7].

Sleep is imperative because:

  • It gives the body chance to rest and repair.
  • It gives the brain time to consolidate new memories.
  • It increases blood supply to the muscles.
  • It gives the new tissue time to grow.

The digestive system works to break down food while you sleep

When you sleep, the need for glucose is greatly reduced.

That means both the metabolism and the digestive system gradually slow down.

Sleep gives the body the chance to replenish energy levels which are essential for the digestive system to function properly.

If you don’t have that energy, the digestive system won’t be able to break down your food efficiently.

This will lead to nasty symptoms.

Sleep deprivation can have serious repercussions for your digestive system

  • Sufferers of inflammatory bowel disorder often experience flare-ups after experiencing a poor night of sleep [8]. And there could be symptoms to blame for this.
  • Sleep deprivation can cause inflammation. Poor sleep can enhance pro-inflammatory cytokines, resulting in higher amounts of inflammation throughout your body. This will include your joints and muscles as well as the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Sleep deprivation makes you crave more sugary foods: Because sleep is so essential for healthy energy levels, your body needs more food to help supply you with the fuel you need. The hunger hormone will be elevated after a poor night’s sleep and the levels of leptin, the appetite suppressor, will be reduced. This can cause you to want to binge on unhealthy snacks which definitely will impact your digestive system.
  • Sleep deprivation can make you stressed: Sleep deprivation can definitely have an impact on your mood. There is no question that it can make you more vulnerable to stress and stress is the enemy of the digestive system. With stress, the fight-or-flight instincts are triggered. This prompts the body to redirect nutrients to organs such as the heart, lungs, and muscles. It will shut down other bodily functions, of which the digestive system is one.
  • Sleep deprivation affects neurochemicals [9]: Your levels of melatonin should actually increase in the evening. Cortisol should start to peak in the morning. This will allow you to feel refreshed and energized. But sleep deprivation impacts this balance. Serotonin, a vital neurotransmitter, is considered to be essential for how your digestive system functions.

Rest so you can digest

It is always important to consider your digestive health when retiring for the night.

Certain habits and even sleeping positions can have a big impact on your digestive system.

Here are tips to avoid slowing down your digestive system at night.

1) Avoid big meals and heavy snacks before bedtime

Eating anything and binging before sleeping can trigger off acid reflux and heartburn. 

2) The position you sleep in matters

If you sleep on your stomach or sleep curled up on your right side, you might want to rethink.

Both are known to have unforeseen consequences for your digestive system.

Generally speaking the best thing for slow digestion is to sleep with your head elevated.

3) Take some time to relax

If you go to bed immediately after eating a big meal and you are stressed as well, you can be assured of a restless night of sleep.

It’s important to make the time leading up to going to sleep as peaceful and restful as you can.

Try and avoid taking stimulants like coffee or using electronic devices. Rather indulge in a hot bath and curl up with a cup of hot chamomile tea. 

4) Trust in herbal helpers and natural products to promote digestion

It will be worth your weight in gold to consider a natural remedy. Try those that aim at tackling the symptoms of slow indigestion and feelings of fullness and flatulence.


Not a whole lot of people know how long it takes the body to fully digest food.

And then still follow through with a bowel movement. The body requires daily bowel movements.

For those with slow digestion, it can make them worried and concerned about their general health.

You can boost the speed of your slow digestion by benefiting, perhaps, from stress management and changing your mindset by changing your diet and lifestyle.

Just some simple changes will be able to boost the speed of your digestive system.

Eating whole foods that are high in fiber and packed with health and nutrients will keep your digestive system in good order.

Try and practice the art of mindful eating too and increase your physical activity.

Try and limit the intake of processed, fatty, fast foods.

Now is also a good time to reduce your intake of alcohol and quit smoking.

All of these, and more, can help to speed up your digestion. But isn’t it exciting to know you are probably adding years to your life as well?