Ways to Improve Intestinal Transit

Improving intestinal transit is possible as long as you adopt some healthy habits. This is mainly about diet and exercise. Consult a specialist if there's no improvement after you follow these tips.
Ways to Improve Intestinal Transit

Written by Edith Sánchez

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Improving intestinal transit isn’t as difficult as some people think. In fact, there’s no need for extravagant measures or extreme sacrifices to achieve it. It has more to do with developing simple habits and pursuing them.

Constipation is a common problem today and estimates indicate that three out of ten people experience it. It affects women mainly though. Nevertheless, most people manage to improve bowel transit when they adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Furthermore, many people resort to laxatives to control their constipation problems, but this isn’t advisable due to the side effects. It’s much better to take specific measures to improve intestinal transit and thus solve the problem.

Intestinal transit

A person's belly and a shake.

The intestinal transit is the amount of time it takes for food to go from the beginning of the digestive tract, in the mouth, to the end, in the anus. Typically, the total process takes between 30 and 40 hours. A range of 72 to 100 hours, particularly in women, is still considered normal.

The times vary greatly from person to person, although the intestinal transit is slow if digestion takes more than 100 hours. This is what causes constipation. In contrast, there’s diarrhea when the transit happens too fast. Note that neither condition is desirable.

Improving intestinal transit basically means increasing its rate to avoid the discomfort that comes with constipation. The idea is to increase the frequency of bowel movements.

Diet to improve intestinal transit

This is the best way to improve intestinal transit. Rather than depriving you of something, these diets seek to introduce some foods that accelerate the rate of digestion.

Professionals advise increasing the consumption of fiber, so opt for whole cereals. These are good because the abundance of fiber is key to improving intestinal transit. Fruit, vegetables, legumes, and nuts are also high in fiber.

You must also include probiotics and prebiotics. This is because these contain Lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria, which help prevent health problems such as constipation. In addition, try to drink at least one and a half quarts of water a day, as this facilitates the passage of stools through the colon.

Specific exercises

A woman exercising.

Exercise is positive in general and one of the things it promotes is intestinal transit. Aerobic exercises, sit-ups, and hip mobility are particularly effective in preventing constipation. The results are actually immediate.

This is because exercise activates the muscles of the belly and promotes bowel movement. The most recommended aerobic exercise is walking for thirty minutes every day at a brisk pace. As for abdominal crunches, do these three times a week and include three sets of fifteen exercises in each session.

To do them, lie down on the floor and gently bring your knees up to your chest, holding this flexion for fifteen seconds. You may also do some hip mobility exercises such as rotations, stretches, and any other exercise that puts this area in motion.

Other recommendations

One of the most important measures to improve intestinal transit is to re-train the intestine. The goal is to generate a routine in which bowel movements always happen around the same time. Thus, choose a time that works for you and sit on the toilet for about ten minutes every day.

In addition, go to the bathroom as soon as you feel the need to do so and don’t make a huge effort to poop. A massage in the abdomen, in the same direction as the hands of the clock, is a great way to accelerate intestinal transit. You must do it for five minutes.

Note that tight clothing hinders bowel movements and is, therefore, not advisable. Also, reduce the consumption of coffee, tea, tobacco, refined flours, aged cheese, and simple sugars. Taking an infusion made with digestive plants after every meal usually helps as well.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Klinger, J., & Klinger, J. (2001). Síndrome de intestino irritable. Revista médica de Chile, 129(5), 576-580.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.