Is Your ‘Poop Clock’ Running on Schedule?

Gut transit time reveals your digestive health

(HELEN FOSTER, BODY AND SOUL) A lot happens to food in the time between you chewing it and its appearance out the other end.

PHOTO: Quinn Dombrowski, CC

Every single mouthful has to make its way through your stomach and round the seven meandering meters of tubing that make up your small intestine, during which nutrients are absorbed and toxins are extracted.

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What’s left then enters the 1.5 meters of the large intestine, where trillions of bacteria get to work extracting anything else useful that’s left behind.

Reactions that occur here also produce nutrients including vitamin K and other helpful compounds that we now know impact everything from our immunity to our mood.

“The gut is more than a mere food processing system and it needs time to do all its work on food effectively,” Professor Kerryn Phelps, a leading medical academic and author of The Mystery Gut, says.

It can take between four and 11 hours for food to pass into the large intestine (six to eight is average), and it will spend up to 70 hours there before being excreted (the average is 40) – the exact timing depends on your metabolism and what you’ve eaten, and it may vary day to day.

The sum of these two figures is your gut transit time or GTT.

Your own highly personalized piece of plumbing.

“Ideally it should be about 12-48 hours in total,” nutritionist Despina Kamper says.

“If food passes through faster than this you won’t absorb the optimum number of nutrients; if it passes through much slower, too much water is drawn from the stool which makes it harder to pass, causing issues like constipation and associated concerns such as hemorrhoids or diverticulitis.”

But these aren’t the only downsides – a group of Danish researchers recently discovered a slow transit time also affects the gut at a cellular level. READ FULL STORY AT THE DAILY TELEGRAPH.