9 Ways to Naturally Digest Food Faster

Woman holding her stomach

Luis Alvarez / Getty Images


Table of Contents

The digestive system carries out really important functions for our bodies. Without our digestive system, we wouldn’t be able to eat or absorb any nutrients from our food.

Sometimes, though, the digestive system can seem like your worst enemy. If you’re like most people, you’ve spent some time cursing your stomach for gurgling and cramping, shaking your fist at your bowels for moving too slow (or too fast), or internally screaming at constant bloating and gas. 

You can alleviate most of these common digestive problems by understanding how your digestive system works and taking steps to ensure all of your food moves smoothly—and at the right pace—through your entire gastrointestinal tract. 

Understanding the Digestive Process

Your digestive system breaks food down into nutrients your body can absorb and uses it to power your muscles, bones, joints, organs, blood vessels, and brain.

The nutrients you get from food are critical to proper body functioning and play roles in regulating every single mechanism that happens in your body. From hormone production to heartbeats, food is the start of it all. 
Understanding your digestive system starts with knowing which organs are involved. Here’s how the digestive system works in a nutshell:1 
  1. Your mouth starts the process by chewing food, lubricating it with saliva, and breaking food down into smaller pieces your body can digest. 
  2. Food passes through your esophagus and lower esophageal sphincter, a valve that lets food into your stomach. 
  3. In your stomach, digestive enzymes and acids further break down food. 
  4. Food (which no longer really resembles food) then passes through another valve called the pyloric valve and enters the small intestine. 
  5. In the small intestine, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients are absorbed by your body. Anything that doesn’t benefit your body (i.e., waste) gets moved through the ileocecal valve into the large intestine, or colon. 
  6. By the time food reaches your colon, it’s pretty much digested. All there is left to do is absorb water and get rid of waste, which happens when stool enters the rectum and is expelled through the anus. 

Once you chew and swallow food, all of those actions are involuntarily powered by peristalsis, a powerful and continuous contraction of the muscles along your digestive tract.2 

How Long Does it Take to Digest Food?

Digestion is different for everyone, and research suggests there’s a pretty big range. Complete digestion may take just 10 hours or up to 73 hours (more than three days!).3

Here’s how it breaks down, approximately:

  • After you eat, it takes six to eight hours for food to pass through your small intestine and stomach. 
  • Once food passes through your stomach and enters your colon, it can take about 36 hours (but up to 59 hours)3 to process.

Factors that Affect Digestion Time

The duration of your total digestion time depends on many factors, including:

  • Genetics
  • Age
  • Digestive health and the presence of any digestive disorders
  • Emotional state (stress and anxiety)
  • Metabolism
  • Physical activity level
  • What kind of food you ate
  • How much food you ate
  • Hydration
  • Sleep quality

9 Ways to Naturally Speed Up Digestion

If you’ve been feeling some pain, bloating, or any kind of discomfort in your stomach, the following tips may help you speed up your digestion naturally.

Exercise Regularly

If there were a miracle drug, exercise would be it. Truly, physical activity provides us with so many benefits, from happiness to strength to low disease risk.

In addition to those well-known benefits of exercise, moving your body can also help move food through your digestive system and not by an insignificant amount: One study showed that regular cycling and jogging can reduce gut transit time by 14.6 hours and 17.2 hours, respectively.4 That’s no small difference! 

Additionally, people with existing constipation may benefit from a simple workout routine. Some research has found that just 30 minutes of walking and 11 minutes of at-home exercise each day can significantly improve symptoms.5

Plus, inactivity has been linked to reduced gastrointestinal motility6 (the ability of your body to move things through your digestive tract) and reduced transit time.7 If you needed another reason to start exercising regularly, improved digestion is it.  

Eat More Fiber

You probably already know that fiber improves digestive health. In terms of digestion time specifically, fiber helps in two ways: Soluble fiber absorbs water and makes your stool easier to pass, while insoluble fiber pushes food through your digestive tract and keeps things moving.8 Studies have linked a high-fiber diet to a reduced risk of inflammatory bowel conditions and digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).9

If you don’t get a lot of fiber right now, start increasing your fiber intake very slowly. Adding too much fiber to your diet at once can have the opposite effect of what you want, causing bloating, gas, and constipation.10

Minimize Fast Food

Healthy fats, such as those found in avocados, almonds, chia seeds, olive oil, and fish, provide essential health benefits to your body. Other types of fats, such as those found in fast food and fried potato chips, may slow digestion. 

Scientists think these foods can cause constipation because they contain lots of fat, which takes longer to digest, and don’t contain much, if any, fiber.11 High salt content may also reduce the water content of your stool, making it more difficult to pass.12

Additionally, eating mostly fast food or high-fat prepared foods may simply not leave enough room in your diet for foods that benefit digestion, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. 

Drink More Water

Low fluid intake has been linked to constipation in both children13 and adults.14

While hydration needs vary among individuals, experts recommend consuming 3.7 liters of fluid for men and 2.7 liters of fluid for women.15

This sounds like a lot, but keep in mind that this recommendation includes fluid you get from foods and non-water beverages. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables can help you meet the recommended fluid intake

Also, there’s no solid evidence that shows caffeine to be dehydrating,16 especially in individuals who drink caffeinated beverages daily,17 Plus, caffeine may actually help speed things along in your digestive tract.18

Prioritize Sleep

Scientists have hypothesized for decades that sleep habits could have an effect on digestion and bowel movements.19 Years later, that relationship stands. Disturbed sleep seems to negatively affect next-day digestion,20 with a particularly significant effect on abdominal pain21 and distension (bloating).

Poor sleep has also been linked to gastrointestinal diseases, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), peptic ulcer disease (PUD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).21

The Gastrointestinal Society, an arm of the Canadian Center for Intestinal Research, recommends high-quality sleep as a lifestyle-based treatment for poor digestion and digestive disorders.22

Keep Stress Levels Low

People often experience upset stomachs, “butterflies,” or gut-wrenching pain before big events, such as starting an important exam, proposing to a significant other, or interviewing for a big job. This type of stress-induced tummy ache typically subsides immediately or shortly after the important event ends. Chronic stress, however, can have a long-term impact on your digestive health.23

Your gut and brain communicate on a two-way street, and when stress rises, miscommunications can happen. In fact, your brain and gut share so much communication that some experts have dubbed the gut a “second brain.”24

The connection between stress and slow digestion doesn’t end there: When you’re stressed, your body adopts a state of heightened alert. Your fight-or-flight mechanism is always on. This can cause your blood pressure to rise, cortisol levels to increase, muscles to tense up, and heart to beat faster.25

While all those mechanisms are on the up, your body slams the brakes on mechanisms that it feels aren’t as important in the moment—like digestion. When your brain thinks you’re running from a bear, it doesn’t care what’s going on in your stomach. This can lead to symptoms like alterations in your appetite (more hungry or less hungry), bloating, constipation, and stomach aches.23

If you’re feeling particularly anxious at mealtime, you may want to try a stress-reducing tactic before you eat. One study showed that people who ate while anxious experienced increased symptoms of bloating and fullness.26

Stress may also exacerbate existing digestive conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).27

Avoid Overeating

Everyone knows what it feels like to eat way too much food in one sitting—it’s not pleasant, to say the least. Eating too much overloads your digestive system and bogs the process down, which can cause digestion to slow.

If you tend to overeat at every meal, you may think that slow digestion is your “normal,” but you can enjoy speedy digestion (and avoid uncomfortable fullness) by eating smaller meals. 

This isn’t to say you need to eat less overall—you should certainly eat enough to support your body and lifestyle—but you might consider eating more frequent, smaller meals.

For example, if you currently eat three large meals each day and deal with slow, uncomfortable digestion, try eating five or six small meals. Or, try throwing some satiating snacks, like trail mix or lean jerky bars, into your day and see if it helps you keep your meals smaller. 

Chew Your Food

Do you tend to scarf food down without really chewing it? If so, your lightning speed eating habits may be contributing to slow and uncomfortable digestion. 

The digestive process starts in your mouth, where salivary enzymes begin to break down food.28 Your teeth help by crushing tough outer surfaces and skins on food, mashing each mouthful into a pulp that your digestive enzymes can easily permeate. 

Chewing your food thoroughly helps your body absorb more nutrients from certain foods29 and may prevent you from overeating,30 which can reduce the likelihood of indigestion.31

Take Probiotic Supplements

Adding probiotics to your supplement regime may help you digest food faster. Probiotics are helpful bacteria that live all over and within our body; the probiotics in your gut (known as the microbiome), heavily influence digestive health.32

While it’s ideal to get probiotics through food, such as yogurt and sauerkraut, or to help existing probiotics flourish by eating healthy foods like whole grains, probiotics may still help when taken as a supplement. Studies show that probiotics can relieve bloating, gas, and pain in people with IBS,33 as well as decrease transit time.34

Probiotic supplements are available in many forms and from many brands, so it’s important to research before buying them. Verywell Fit’s list of the best probiotics includes the top supplements rated by a dietitian. 


Five Prophetic Words God Spoke to Me Audibly in 2020 (Ep. 50)


Back in March 2020, God spoke two words to me audibly: “Trade wars.” Keep in mind that a “war” is an extreme effort, usually a military campaign, to subjugate an enemy or conquer another nation.

Take note, if the U.S. economy is crushed or crippled, it will be far easier to set the stage for what has been termed “The Great Reset.” It is not just a China versus the U.S. tug-of-war economically; it involves a globalist agenda fighting against the superiority and sovereignty of the United States. Check out the World Economic Forum website where you will find disturbing quotes like: “The U.S. won’t be the world’s leading superpower”—”A handful of nations will dominate”—”Western values will have been tested to the breaking point”—”You will own nothing and be happy.” Sounds more like a “utopian dystopia”—a dream turned nightmare to me.

Disturbing Revelation

Around the middle of April, upon waking, I heard God speak a very disturbing revelation about health care. Because of the increasing control being exerted by the World Health Organization, the National Institute of Health, the pharmaceutical industry and insurance providers, health care is more and more becoming big business, and it is becoming apparent that it will increasingly be used to monitor and control U.S. citizens, as well as the rest of the world. To pave the way, you can also expect bloated COVID-19 numbers to continue being pushed until the fear-mongering drives people to unresistingly submit to a vaccination program that will include a rigidly-enforced, national tracking system.

This plan will rob people of their personal freedom in a major way. I have personal insight into the tendency toward making false medical claims. A relative of mine died earlier in the year from a car wreck. Because of a sliced artery in his neck, he was on a ventilator for two months before he died. However, a reputable hospital labeled his death as resulting from COVID-19. Unbelievable. I have also had many friends report similar happenings.

However, it’s all part of a deceptive plan. Though the vaccination itself may not be mandatory, the requirement of having it in order to participate in routine day-to-day activities (going to school, shopping, public events, and more) may make normal life almost impossible without submitting. Still, we should purpose to absolutely refuse the vaccines soon to be offered, if for no other reason, because they have been developed through the use of aborted fetal tissue.


The day after I received the previous word, God woke me up in the morning with this single word ringing in my spirit: “sequencing.” The process of “sequencing” DNA involves determining the order of the four chemical building blocks in the double helix. They’re called “bases” and they comprise the DNA molecule. The sequence reveals the kind of genetic information that is carried in a DNA segment.

For example, scientists can use sequence information to determine which stretches of DNA contain genes and which stretches carry regulatory instructions, turning genes on or off. Experimentation with genetic splicing is very troubling and, in some situations, horrifying. Some current experiments even mix human and animal genes. Also, the genetic modification of our food is widespread. There is a movement now geared toward something called “transhumanism,” creating a more perfect or more evolved human being through genetic manipulation.

This is all possible because of a machine called Crispr that allows scientists to cut and paste genetic material. This trend may also involve genetic modification through the introduction of an RNA vaccine that will affect the DNA of those who receive it. Those involved in this practice are removing something from the hands of God that only He should control. In essence, genetic manipulation is a way of telling God He did not do a good enough job, and we need to fix it.

God warned me that this practice is a major crime against Him and against humanity in these last days.

Armed Resistance

On Dec. 9, God spoke to me audibly early in the morning with the sobering words, “armed resistance.” That was all; He didn’t elaborate on the details. It could be applied in so many directions. Only God knows what He meant, but I believe we need to brace ourselves for some very disturbing things about to unfold.

It could mean that vigilante patriot groups will launch some kind of “armed resistance” if Biden is sworn into office. Or the opposite, it could mean that left-leaning mobs, like Antifa and Black Lives Matter, may violently oppose President Trump if he continues to expose the fraudulent voting practices that took place and refuses to concede the election and vacate the oval office. Or it could mean an attack on the United States from the outside. Only God knows, but I believe we need to brace ourselves for some very disturbing violent conflicts that may very well unfold in the near future.

In the Nick of Time

The day after I heard “sequencing” in my spirit, I heard, “in the nick of time.” Surely, this could mean that God will turn things around at the last minute by means of various exposures released concerning the evil intentions of globalist groups or that God will foil this evil agenda with an outbreak of revival and a super-harvest worldwide of people saved (which has also been prophetically foretold in Scripture).

Of course, it could mean Jesus returning right before the darkness completely engulfs humanity. “In the nick of time,” He will rescue His anointed ones (His elect) by the resurrection and the catching away. Remember, Jesus did predict that “Unless those [last] days were shortened, no one would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened” (Matt. 24:22). So, child of God, be encouraged, be strong, be confident, and be committed. Continue to fight the good fight of faith as we move forward in establishing His kingdom.

Mike Shreve has been involved in evangelism (outreach to the world and ministry to the church) since 1971. His passion is to offer a faith-filled, grace-founded, Jesus-focused, power-imparting presentation of the Gospel. The motto of the ministry concisely communicates his mission statement: “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).

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