Intestinal peristalsis


Simple recommendations for keeping a

healthy intestinal peristalsis


Intestinal peristalsis

Some people assume that the food they eat leaves the body fairly quickly, even with their next bowel movement. In reality, transit can take much longer. Food takes a veritable 'journey' as it moves through the digestive system.

The period of time required to complete the movement of ingested food from-along the digestive tract is called transit time. This transit time varies from person to person, depending on the constitutional nature and personal specifics, but is usually around 24 hours for a person on a high-fibre diet.

Favouring factors

There are several factors that determine how long it will take for food to pass through the body. These include: the nature of the food used, the level of bodily activity, the degree of psychological stress, personal characteristics and general health. If for some people transit time becomes a cause for concern, some preventive and corrective measures can be taken to improve the situation.


Water consumption is conducive to peristaltic activity. It is recommended to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. There are many health reasons for this recommendation. In this case, water helps to keep the substances carried in the gut moist, thus improving their transit time.


Eating foods with more fibre helps peristalsis. High-fibre foods such as whole grains, green leafy vegetables and fresh fruit can add a large amount of transient substance and so will help stimulate the gut to push processed food substances from-along the digestive tract. A rapid addition of fibre to the diet can result in gas, bloating and cramping. This is why high-fibre foods should be introduced gradually into the diet.

Processed foods

Processed foods slow down peristalsis. Meat has the slowest passage through the intestines. Dairy products and especially hard cheese also have a slower gut passage speed. Refined carbohydrates such as white sugar, but also white flour and instant oatmeal also pass through the digestive tract quite slowly and can slow down peristalsis.


Yoghurt improves digestion. Yoghurt and other probiotic foods such as garlic, soft cheeses and sourdough bread contain live bacterial cultures that support the beneficial bacteria that improve healthy digestion and live in the gut.


Exercising for 30 minutes a day is very helpful. Food and generally digested material is moved through the body by a series of muscle contractions. These muscle contractions make up peristalsis. A sedentary lifestyle slows down peristalsis, thus reducing transit time. This can lead to constipation and general discomfort. Exercise increases metabolism and makes muscle contractions more frequent. This is why some people feel the need to go to the toilet immediately after performing energising exercise.


Systematic daily practice of yogic body postures (asanas), which are part of the traditional Hatha system-Yoga, is useful for maintaining healthy intestinal peristalsis. Reverse postures and exercises that stress the abdominal area have a beneficial effect on the digestive system and the intestines.


Proper nutrition and exercise can help maintain a healthy colon. Waste substances or waste products that stay in the colon for too long can end up being reabsorbed into the bloodstream and can irritate the bowel walls. A transit time longer than 72 hours is considered slow and can irritate the colon, increasing the risk of disease.