Unless you’re a gastroenterologist, you probably don’t make a habit of noticing what your stools look like after you’ve used the bathroom.
But your poop can be hard to ignore when you happen to glance in the toilet and see bits of undigested food along with your stool.
This may concern you — what does it mean when you see undigested food in your stools?
Is it normal to see undigested carrots in your poop?
First of all, just because something is common does not necessarily mean that it’s healthy.
Digestive disorders are shockingly common in our modern world, especially in Westernized countries.
According to GI Alliance, more Americans are hospitalized with digestive illnesses than with any other type of illness, and digestive disorders are the reason for 25% of all surgeries.
So even though poor digestion — things like chronic heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, intestinal pain after eating, and undigested food in stools — is “normal” in the sense that nearly everyone you know experiences it, this does not make it healthy.
If you notice a recurrence of any of these symptoms on a regular basis, you should take steps to improve your digestive health.
Are carrots hard to digest?
Keep in mind that everyone’s digestive system is unique.
The composition of your gut bacteria and digestive enzymes can vary quite drastically from someone else, even someone in your own family.
Your gut health depends on a wide variety of factors — your external environment, connection with the natural world, history of antibiotics and medications, sleep and diet quality, and stress levels all impact your gut health.
For this reason, foods that for one person may trigger digestive symptoms may be no problem at all for someone else.
As with most other things in life, the best approach is to experiment with the types of foods that you personally tolerate the best.
The main reason why carrots may be difficult for some people to digest is due to their fiber content, particularly the insoluble fiber.
Humans lack the digestive enzymes necessary to break down this type of fiber.
For this reason, chewing your food thoroughly is crucial, especially when eating raw vegetables.
Cooking essentially does part of the digestive process for you — it starts breaking down the foods so that they are easier for your digestive system to break down.
How long does it take to poop out carrots?
The digestive system consists of the mouth and esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine (colon).
According to Dr. Elizabeth Rajan writing for the Mayo Clinic, it typically takes 6-8 hours after food enters your mouth and is chewed and swallowed to pass through the stomach and small intestine.
In the stomach, the food is churned, broken down into smaller pieces, and mixed with stomach acid and digestive enzymes to produce a substance called chyme.
The chyme is then squeezed into the small intestine, where it is broken down even further.
As noted above, this process takes about 6-8 hours. From there, the chyme is sent into the colon (large intestine).
Food moves much more slowly through the colon — according to Dr. Rajan, it takes an average of about 36 hours to move through the entire colon.
Nearly all of the water in the chyme is absorbed in the large intestine, leaving just the stool, which is expelled when conditions are ideal.
Having shorter transit times through the digestive system is often indicative of nutrient malabsorption, and often results in loose stools and undigested food particles in the stool.
Having long transit times is often indicative of constipation, which makes stools harder to pass.
Eating habits for good digestion
Being in a relaxed, unstressed state of mind is crucial for good digestion.
Slowing down, putting down your phone or devices when preparing to eat, and taking a few deep belly breaths before starting to eat are good strategies for putting yourself in “rest and digest” mode.
This video provides more tips for shifting from “fight or flight” mode into “rest and digest” mode.
Chewing your food thoroughly before swallowing is also necessary for good digestion, especially when eating vegetables and other high-fiber foods.
The beginning of the digestive process begins in the mouth, when your food is broken down physically by your teeth, and chemically by enzymes secreted by your salivary glands.
Finally, saving your drink for after your meal is a good strategy to try.
Drinking at the same time as eating can dilute your stomach acid, which makes digestion more difficult.
If you’re still having digestive issues, here are some other strategies to try:
- Go for a 10-minute walk soon after finishing your meal.
- Drink a shot of apple cider vinegar, diluted in a small amount of water, before eating.
- Take digestive bitters before your meal.
- Change your food choices — if something you’re eating is irritating your digestion, avoid it for a while. If you can’t pinpoint a particular food or food group that is irritating your digestion, try an elimination diet such as The Whole 30.
If you’ve tried all of the above strategies and still aren’t seeing improvements, it may be time to see your doctor.
I’m Chris Watson & the Founder of EatForLonger.com. I’m a food and wellbeing enthusiast researching and sharing foodstuffs and simple food-based concepts, such as fasting and clean eating.
I hope it inspires you to make tiny changes to what you eat and when you eat while optimizing your healthspan and all-around well-being.
Read more About Me here.