How long does it take for our stomachs to digest food?

Heavy, slow or difficult digestions, very common digestive problems - and extremely painful - as for example it can be the case of a dyspepsia, the appearance of uncomfortable gases or flatulence ... The problems that can affect our digestive system are really many, and in Most of the times, they have an almost practically direct relationship with what we eat every day.

As you surely know, The digestive system is a set of organs that are responsible for the process of digestion, transforming food so that it can be precisely absorbed and finally used by the cells of our body.

It is also known by the name of digestive system, and is basically formed by: the mouth, tongue, pharynx, esophagus, liver, pancreas, small intestine, large intestine, rectum and finally the anus (although it is true that very often tends to relate only to the stomach, when in reality it is a complete error).

The digestive process

The process of digestion begins in the mouth, where the food is crushed thanks to the action of the teeth. In this place they are in turn subjected to the action of the different secretions of the salivary glands (in short, the saliva), moistening the food and initiating its chemical decomposition to form the alimentary bolus.

Then, this bolus crosses through the pharynx and through the esophagus through the process of swallowing, to finally reach the stomach.

In this place the food is stored temporarily, where they are subjected to the action of gastric juices (corrosive substances) produced by the different glands of the digestive mucosa that cover the organ. In this way, the food is stirred until it becomes the chyme (dough composed of digested foods).

Meanwhile, the liver secretes bile, which is essential for the digestion of fats, synthesizes proteins, converts toxic substances into harmless substances, and also acts as a reservoir of vitamins, proteins and glycogen.

Then, the gall bladder pours bile into the duodenum, along with pancreatic juices secreted by the pancreas, and intestinal juices that allow you to digest food and absorb nutrients.

Throughout this journey, In the small intestine both digestion and absorption of nutrients take place, to finally finish everything in the colon, where the fecal matter is formed that for terminal will be expelled by the rectum through the anus (waste or debris are expelled from the entire digestive process).

How long does it take to do the digestion?

We must bear in mind that each organ of the digestive system performs its function, so that until the stomach does not finish its work the chyme will not pass to the next portion of the digestive system, not producing gastric emptying.

Further, the time that the process of digestion lasts depends directly on the foods that have been consumed, which means that the time of digestion will not be the same if we have consumed foods with a higher protein content than those with a higher carbohydrate or fat content.

However, depending on the type of food consumed, the gastric emptying times will be the following:

  • Liquid foods: less than 2 hours
  • Foods rich in carbohydrates: less than 2 hours
  • Foods rich in proteins: from 2 to 4 hours.
  • Fat-rich foods: more than 4 hours

Yes we can set an average time: Our stomach performs its digestive function after a varied meal between 3 to 6 hours approximately. In addition, it is true that depending on the amount of food we have consumed our digestive system will ultimately take more or less.

And it is evident that it will not be the same to eat a nut as to eat ten, just as it is not the same to eat a ribeye with vegetables than a French omelette.

Operation Ouch - Digestion | Biology for Kids (December 2021)