Stool transit time, or the time it takes for food to pass from your mouth to the toilet, is an important indicator of your overall digestive health and the prevention of disease. The rate you digest food shows how well you absorb nutrients and how much healthy flora is present in your gut.
With high-stress, fast-paced, and sedentary lifestyles, digestive problems are increasingly common. The chronic stress and “fight-or-flight” response make digestion difficult. Dehydration, excess caffeine, poor diet, food allergies, inflammation and hormone imbalances, can also contribute to digestive issues. The good news is that you can determine your stool transit time and learn how to support your health.
Test Your Transit Time
This method is simple, convenient and inexpensive.
- Eat 1 cup of organic fresh/ frozen whole kernel corn with a meal and write down the time. Don’t eat corn again until the testing is over. You can also do this with beets, sesame seeds or charcoal tabs.
- Observe your stool over the next 36 hours and write down the time you first see corn. If you ate corn with dinner at 6 PM and saw it in your stool at 8 AM, then you have a 14 hour transit time.
Review Your Results
Optimal transit time takes 12-24 hours. This easy-to-pass stool looks like a brown banana.
A slow transit time takes longer than 24 hours to pass food, which results in constipation, or small, hard, difficult-to-pass stool. Constipation is a sign food is sitting in your colon for too long, which can cause issues as waste, toxins, bile acids, and hormones that were meant to be eliminated are reabsorbed.
Symptoms: gas, bloating, acid reflux, burping, fatigue after eating, feel toxic, skin issues, hypothyroidism, weight gain, chronic infection, food sensitivities/allergies, gut dysbiosis, magnesium deficiency, dehydration
A fast transit time takes less than 12 hours to pass food, which results in diarrhea or soft, unformed stool that passes too quickly. Diarrhea can cause nutrient deficiencies and malabsorption.
Symptoms: food sensitivities/allergies, chronic infection, gut dysbiosis, hyperthyroidism, high stress, over-exercising, anxiety disorders
Alternating diarrhea and constipation are commonly the results of food allergies, intestinal inflammation, gut dysbiosis, IBS, SIBO, or chronic infection.