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Food Mass Transit

Most women experience a four-day intestine transit time, likely too long to meet the target 200 gram (half pound) minimum fecal output for cancer prevention.

September 27, 2011 |
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Supplementary Info

Sources Cited


Image thanks to Fuzzy Gerdes.


How long food takes to get from one end to the other depends on  gender and eating style. If you’re a  vegetarian male it should just be a day or two, though if you eat meat  it could end up being 5 days.  Female vegetarians also mostly 1 or 2 days but those who eat meat are  most likely looking at 4 days.

 If it’s just 24, 36 hours your daily stool weight, which is what's flushing out all that excess estrogen and cholesterol,  is probably going to hit that half pound target, though if it’s a couple days you may be hurtin’.

Or, if you have a really good bathroom scale, you can just measure stool weight directly, to see if you hit that half pound minimum… by of course weighing yourself before and after, not, yoknow, messing up your scale.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Dianne Moore.

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Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check out the other videos on bowel movements. Also, there are 1,449 subjects covered in my other videos–please feel free to explore them!

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Stool Size and Breast Cancer Risk, Bowel Movements: The Scoop on Poop, Kiwi Fruit for Irritable Bowel SyndromeOptimal Phytosterol Dose and Source, and Best Treatment for Constipation

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check out the other videos on bowel movements. Also, there are 1,449 subjects covered in my other videos–please feel free to explore them!

  • Scott Beavers

    Thanks for these videos. BMs might not be a trendy topic to discuss but still a very important indicator of health!

  • StrayKat

    Since your lectures are on the most current research, I was surprised by the dates on these studies. Is this as current as it gets?

  • Jeff Hicks

    Dr. Greger

    What advise do you have for those who need to transition from eating low-bulk meat based diet that has them severely constipated to a healthy whole food plant based diet.

    Specifically, I have an Aunt who has been doing the low-carb thing for years. She is very attractive and thin, but she is starting to notice the complications: severe constipation. She has seen my health and weight improve and allowed me to feed her Whole Food Plant Based for a few days. Unfortunately, I believe the bulk was very uncomfortable since she was so stopped up from her previous diet.


    • HereHere

      Jeff, I’m not a doctor, but it will likely clear out in a couple of days and she’ll probably be fine with a high-fibre diet. I wouldn’t worry about transition, except perhaps staying away from bananas and perhaps potatos. Of course, prunes and prune juice are always good for regularity! My guess is it would only be in the rarest of cases after the prune juice trick has been tried that a real, true blockage, would require medical treatment such as enema. She could also contact a massage therapist trained in massage for constipation. This can be done over the clothes, in the abdominal area, but requires a knowledge of the anatomy of the large intestine and familiarity with the protocol.


      Hi Jeff, A serious enough condition is often the best “wake-up” call for the sufferer of that condition to make a change. Sounds like your Aunt has consulted with you about her discomfort already and she has identified you as someone who is doing it right when it comes to health. Here’s a few tips to help her: add more greens and beans daily and other great sources of fiber, drink plenty of water (1/2 her weight in ounces), exercise 30min- 1 hour daily. A green smoothy in the morning can really get her on a great start.
      Most likely her constipation is just the tip of the iceberg- there may be another undesireable condition or 2 lurking to spring up on her such as heart disease. Here’s a link that may give her more reason to changing asap:

  • Iggyputty

    Dr Greger,

    I deal constantly with constipation (IBS + Crohn’s + med side effects). Scrounging the Internet one day in desperate need, I came across and the complementary book. If you haven’t heard of Dr Wes, he is a similar dr, complaining about the lack of nutritional and dietary advice given by doctors to their patients, and the subsequent lack of discussion on one’s bowel habits. Anyways, his “prescription” is fiber supplement 2x/day, either citrucel sugar free or benefiber (eventually working to psyllium), along with miralax as needed. (Apropos, i am already vegan and exercise several times a week). As long as I stick with the regimen (sometimes harder than you think to drink all those big glasses!), I’m more or less a consistent pooper. I recommend the book to anyone complaining about their bowel habits; it’s practically a miracle, yet so simple! I was just curious as to your take on these recommendations and any changes you would make. Thanks!

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please also check out my associated blog post, Stool Size and Breast Cancer Risk!

  • DT

    What about transit time on a purely vegan diet?

    Esp one that strives for nutritional excellence from whole foods?

  • barbarabrussels

    by weighing… yourself before and after :-)