When we eat food, our digestive system breaks it down into smaller pieces that can be absorbed into the body. What remains after digestion and absorption are referred to as stool.
Although the digestion process and defecation vary from one individual to the other, the whole process takes about 40 hours (for adults) to complete. It is however possible for some people to experience bowel movements two to three times in a day or even once in every three days.
Is it normal to have undigested food in stool?
It is not unusual to have some undigested food in your stool. This is because some percentage of your stool is comprised of undigested food that you body was unable to break down. Most of such indigestible food mainly comprise of fiber, since the human digestive system lacks enzymes that can break it down in to smaller particles.
In most cases, fiber will be discharged from the body unchanged, although in some instances it will be changed into acid or even gas. Foods that are rich in fiber include cereals, corn and peanuts among others.
The human body experiences a hard time digesting quite a number of foods. This is usually considered as a minor issue, unless the condition is caused by diarrhea or bowel problems.
Why does the stool contain undigested food?
Potential causes include:
- Inadequate chewing of your food: Food digestion starts right from the mouth. If you fail to chew your food properly, you allow it to go down in the stomach when it is not thoroughly broken down. This makes the entire digestion process very difficult, hence more food will be released through stool.
- Eating foods that are difficult to digest: Eating foods that have high fiber contents such as cereals can cause you to have undigested food in your stool.
- Eating overcooked food: overcooking your food alters their chemical form, making them hard to digest.
- Eating food with hard shells: These include foods such as corn and seeds that have tough exterior shells that are hard to digest.
- Diarrhea: This reduces the time that the food stays in the digestive tract.
- Malabsorption: This happens when the body is not able to absorb the vital nutrients from the food that you eat. This is common in people who suffer from conditions such as Crohn’s disease, pancreatic disorder and celiac disease.
- Irritable bowel syndrome: This condition affects the colon, causing abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation or bloating.
- Lactose intolerance: This is when your body is unable to break down dairy foods during digestion.
Other symptoms that accompany undigested food in stool
These symptoms include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Loose poop
- Incomplete bowel movements
- Loss of appetite
- Having a hard time initiating a bowel movement
Getting rid of undigested food in stool
If you have undigested food in your stool, seeking medical attention is the most prudent way of finding solutions to your problem. This because a medical professional is always in a better position to analyze your poop and conduct blood tests that will identify the real cause of undigested food in your stool. From there they will be able to give you the right treatment.
If the doctor is unable to associate the problem with any medical condition, you can follow the following routines to avoid the situation.
- Make sure that you chew your food properly
- Eat foods that have low fiber content such as rice, chicken, bananas, and grapefruit
- Eat smaller food portions to allow the digestive system to thoroughly digest your food.
- Reduce caffeine consumption
- Avoid carbonated drinks and beer
- Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water