Rapid Intestinal Transit

Rapid Intestinal Transit: Overview

Intestinal transit time refers to how long it takes for food to move from the stomach to the anus after it has been broken down in the stomach.  Rapid Intestinal Transit results in inadequate nutrient absorbtion. The time taken for food to pass through the gastrointestinal tract depends on various factors.  It normally takes around 2.5 to 3 hours for 50% of stomach contents to empty into the intestines, and 4 to 5 hours for the stomach to empty completely.  A 50% emptying of the small intestine then takes another 2.5 to 3 hours, and the final stage – transit through the colon – normally takes 16-40 hours.  High-fiber diets generally result in lower transit times.

Causes and Development

Aside from those mentioned below, there are many other things that decrease the amount of time that stool stays in the intestines, including:
  • surgical bypass of part of the intestine
  • prostaglandins
  • serotonin
  • acidic foods
  • stress and anxiety are also common causes
  • Zollinger-Ellison syndrome (over-production of acid due to a tumor).

Signs and Symptoms

There is no "normal" color of stool because it varies from person to person and depends on what was consumed and the digestive process.  As food moves through the digestive tract, it usually turns from green to yellow-orange to brown.  Bile and bacteria are what gives stool its final brown color.

Rapid intestinal transit is often suspected when stool color is green(ish), meaning that the final stages of digestion have not had time to take place.

On This Page

Rapid Stool Passage:

Signs, symptoms & indicators of Rapid Intestinal Transit:

Symptoms - Bowel Movements

Green stool color is a sign or symptom of Rapid Intestinal Transit Green stool color

A green or greenish stool is usually due to rapid transit of food through the intestines.  Bile is green and gradually changes to brown through the digestive process, which takes time.  If the food is moving too fast, there is not enough time for this chemical change to take place.

Chronic diarrhea is often a sign or symptom of Rapid Intestinal Transit Recent onset/chronic diarrhea or diarrhea for 1-3 months

Rapid passage (or transit) of stool is one of the most common causes of diarrhea.  Stool that leaves the large intestine too quickly is watery: there is not enough time for fluid and nutrients to be absorbed from the contents of the gastrointestinal tract.

Risk factors for Rapid Intestinal Transit:

Hormones

Mental

Anxiety may increase risk of Rapid Intestinal Transit Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are common causes of rapid food transit through the intestines.

Supplements and Medications

Magnesium-based antacid use may increase risk of Rapid Intestinal Transit Magnesium-based antacid use

Antacids containing magnesium can reduce the time that food stays in the intestines.

Symptoms - Food - Beverages

Symptoms - Gas-Int - General

Having had a small bowel resection may increase risk of Rapid Intestinal Transit Having had a small bowel resection

If food passes through the intestine too rapidly (for example due to reduced length), there is not enough time for proper digestion and absorption to be completed.

KEY

Weak or unproven link: may increase risk of
Weak or unproven link:
may increase risk of
Strong or generally accepted link: is often a sign or symptom of
Strong or generally accepted link:
is often a sign or symptom of
Definite or direct link: is a sign or symptom of
Definite or direct link:
is a sign or symptom of