How Long Different Foods Take to Digest and Why It’s Important to Know

Have you ever wondered what happens to your food after you ingest it? It’s important to know for maintaining a healthy digestive system.

What Is Digestion

Digestion begins once food is put in your mouth.  By definition, digestion is the process that decomposes food into smaller and then even smaller substances, until they are small enough to be absorbed and then assimilated through the small intestine and the large intestine into your body.

The digestions system takes place in the gastrointestinal tract that starts in the mouth and ends at the anus.

Stages of Digestion

Digestion goes through 2 main stages: the mechanical digestion and chemical digestion.

The mechanical digest begins in your mouth where your teeth grind the food into small chunks and mix it with saliva.

Your saliva starts the chemical process:

  • Certain enzymes that break down the starch, fats, and protein in food
  • Mucus to lubricate the food and make it easier to slide down your throat
  • Hydrogen carbonate which keeps the mouth’s pH alkaline

The chewed food is then swallowed into the esophagus through muscular movements, down the throat. These waving movements push the chewed bolus of food into the stomach.