The body’s digestive system is a marvel of complicated chemical and physical reactions that provide you with the energy to go about your day. But sometimes, you might notice that you have undigested food in your stool, which can be worrying to see. Is your body not processing your diet correctly? Or is there something wrong with your digestion?
There are some circumstances in which it’s normal to see undigested food in stool, but others may require the attention of a gastroenterologist – a doctor that specializes in digestive problems.
What Causes Undigested Food In Stool?
There’s a reason experts advise you to incorporate fiber into your diet: most fiber exits the body undigested, but it adds mass to your stool and makes it easier for you to go to the bathroom. Eating fiber also helps you feel fuller and stimulates your bowels to make digestion easier and quicker. Several different sources of food are high in dietary fiber, such as:
- Grains like oats and quinoa
- Seeds, such as sesame seeds and flax seeds
- Vegetable skins
- Corn and peas
The last one on that list is particularly common for people to find in their stool, and you might see a seemingly undigested corn kernel in your stool from time to time. However, it’s likely you’re only seeing the outer shell of the kernel, which is made of cellulose. This is a fiber that your body cannot break down but has to allow to pass through undigested. The contents of the kernel that give it nutritional value are easily broken down, though.
Is It Bad To See Undigested Food In Stool?
You might be worried about seeing undigested food in your stool, but it’s most likely completely normal. One option to improve digestion and allow the body’s digestive enzymes to break down food more completely is to chew your food thoroughly and eat it slowly.
Chewing is where digestion starts – it mechanically breaks down the food into more manageable pieces for the muscles and acid in the stomach to digest.
However, you should pay attention to how long it takes for food to appear in your stool and how your bowel movements feel. The digestion process takes anywhere from 1-3 days to fully complete, and if you notice any food particles in your stool sooner than this, you may not be digesting your food properly. In addition, the stool should be easy and quick to pass, with a soft texture and a brown color. If you find it difficult to pass stool, an underlying health condition may be responsible.
When You Should See A Doctor
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should see your doctor:
- Blood in your stool
- Diarrhea that doesn’t go away
- Constipation or difficulty passing stool
- Painful bowel movements
- Large changes in bathroom habits
A professional with medical expertise best diagnoses gastrointestinal disorders. Many conditions have overlapping symptoms that can make it difficult to diagnose them at home.
At the Gastroenterology Diagnostic Center, we have significant experience in treating gastrointestinal disorders. If you’d like to schedule a consultation with our board-certified gastroenterologists, please call us at (281) 357-1977. We will be happy to help you enhance your quality of life and show you why we’re the best GI in Tomball.