How long does meat sit in your gut?

Monday 18th July 2011
Submitted by hashworth1

Nothing ‘sits’ in your gut. Your digestive system is not a recycling centre that carefully separates your food into meat, vegetables, grains and so on and then processes them separately. You chew incoming food into a rough mash; it moves into the stomach for another round of mixing, mashing and marinating, and then travels through the intestine as a fairly homogenous paste. It’s not a constant speed conveyor belt – the muscles of the intestines can move food forwards and backwards in order to extract all the nutrients and the rate of travel depends on how much indigestible fibre and water there is. But it’s important to realise that meat, vegetables and chewing gum all move – and exit – together. The widely held myth that meat hangs around longer than other foodstuffs probably stems from the fact a high-protein diet results in a lot of leftover ammonia, which must be removed in the form of urea by the kidneys. This uses extra water and if you don’t drink more to compensate, the dehydrating effect can result in constipation. But in a normal, omnivorous diet, the meat will complete its journey through your digestive system in 12 to 48 hours, along with everything else.

GOT A QUESTION?

Scratching your head over a burning scientific conundrum? Submit your question and we'll get our esteemed panel of experts to answer it for you.

 

Does mixing drinks get you drunk faster?
previous qanda Article
Why hasn't evolution made it pleasant to give birth?
next qanda Article
Q&A Tabs

Phlegm is the mucous secretion of the respiratory passages. The cilia cells that line these passages are continually driving the phlegm upward to the throat, where it triggers the swallow reflex...

No. At least, not in the popular sense that creative people are more ‘right-brained’ than logical or analytical people are: a study that scanned the brains of over 1,000 people found...

Not really - all movement is relative. To have absolute stillness you would need an absolute frame of reference. The (supposedly) fixed stars were once thought of as such a unique reference point...

Beard hair is quite different to head hair; it is coarser, curlier and doesn't fall out as we get older. Comparatively little work has been done on the genetics of human hair colour, but it is...

Most people can’t focus on anything as close as a face at kissing distance so closing your eyes saves them from looking at a distracting blur or the strain of trying to focus. Kissing can...

All female mammals have a clitoris, the sole purpose of which is to react to sexual stimulation, and presumably this stimulation has evolved to be pleasurable for most species. But establishing...

To create a sound, we have to set matter - whether it's a gas like air, a liquid or even a solid material - in regular motion, creating a wave of specific frequencies, which we hear as a sound of...

Mirrors don’t reverse left and right either – that’s just our interpretation of what happens. Your reflection in the mirror is actually reversed front to back – if you have...

Discovered by an American student named Gary Flandro in the mid-1960s, the slingshot manoeuvre usually involves spacecraft briefly 'coat-tailing' a planet orbiting the Sun, extracting some of the...

The ice disappears because the wind blows away water molecules that have evaporated or 'sublimed' from the ice, so the ice slowly shrinks in size. The molecules that escape are those with the...

We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here