Optimal gut health isn’t just about what you put into your mouth. It is also about how quickly you eliminate your food after proper digestion. You don’t want digested food sitting and fermenting in your stomach, which can lead to a whole host of issues.
I’ve always had a so-so tummy. Most times, things would be running tickety-boo, but sometimes, things were not running at all and still at other times, things were running too quickly if you know what I mean. When menopause came into the picture a few years ago, my digestive health went all wonky to the point that every day, I was spending an increasing amount of time in the washroom … not good! Couple the mainly downs of menopause with increased stress from work and taking care of an elderly parent and just life in general and I was not a happy camper.
Digestive issues that came up for me were an upset stomach, heartburn, indigestion, diarrhea, bloating, constipation, feeling way too full from eating a small amount of food and more. In addition, foods that I ate regularly were no longer my friends.
So many things influence good gut health, including on how quickly your body eliminates food. Have you heard of the term, “transit time?”
What is Transit Time?
Transit time is the time it takes your gut to break down your food and eliminate it.
The transit time of your foods should be around 12-24 hours.
Less than 12 hours means malabsorption and is often expressed through diarrhea.
Normal transit time is 12-24 hours.
More than 24 hours typically leads to constipation.
Constipation can be very uncomfortable and even painful, and studies have even found that infrequent bowel movement allows toxins to linger in the colon, which may increase the risk of developing cancer.
Interesting fact: The average North American has a transit time of 72 hours … think on that!
Below are some ways to get things moving if your transit time is less than ideal:
- Drink fresh carrot and apple juice to aid colon detox (fresh and raw is best – the enzymes present also aids digestion)
- Drink a cup of warm water with juice of half a lemon, first thing in the morning – it is very cleansing, aids liver function and helps moves the bile
- Exercise regularly – movement helps peristalsis (movement of food through digestive tract)
- Ensure adequate intake of dietary fiber – fruits, vegetables, whole grains ground flaxseed, wheat bran, psyllium husk
- Supplements such as aloe, magnesium citrate, and vitamin C may also help
What about an emergency?
In an “emergency” or for a short period of time, laxative herbs such as senna or cascara sagrada can be used – they have a very cooling constitution and strong downward energy. However, they present the risk of creating dependency. If you do use these herbs, adding warming herbs such as ginger can help ease the discomfort that some people may experience.
Do the Beet Test!
Beets are a great source of fiber, which is beneficial to your gut health!
The beet test can tell you rather vividly whether you fall into the 12-24 hour transit time range. Why is that? Well, you’ll be able to see the beet’s bright red pigment in your stools. Fiery red poop 24 hours or more later means you’ve got a slow transit time, which can mean constipation. If that happens, you’ve got some work to do!
Naturally, we all want excellent digestion, especially healthy bowel movements, so everything is running as it should be!
It is also imperative that your diet has minimal trans-fats and refined sugars, which are top offenders when it comes to digestive problems.
It’s time to become mindful of how and what we eat for optimal gut health!
Yours in health and wellness,
Francine Alleyne (RHNP™)
Holistic Nutritionist, Registered Holistic Nutrition Practitioner™
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DISCLAIMER: Please consult your healthcare practitioner if you are experiencing any symptoms. I am not a doctor. This post and anything else you find on my website is intended for informational, educational and self-empowerment purposes ONLY and is not intended to treat or diagnose any condition or disease.