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Diet and Nutrition

How long for digestive metabolism?

12/22/2003

Question:

How long does it take for eaten foods to be absorbed into the bloodstream? Specifically, when does the body begin to metabolize food? How long after something is ingested will the body deminstrate a physiological response? (Ex. - How long after a candy bar is consumed might blood pressure possibly elevate?)

Answer:

Thanks for your question. Food starts to be digested in the mouth when saliva is added to it and starches (from foods containing carbohydrate) are broken down. Chewing also helps to break down food. The time it takes for the body to have nutrients from food absorbed into the bloodstream depends on the type and amount of food eaten. For example, simple sugars (from soda, fruit juice or candy) enter the bloodstream fairly quickly because they are easily broken down and the sugar is absorbed quickly in the small intestine. Sugar from these foods may hit the blood stream as fast as 15-30 minutes. Nutrients from foods that are high in fat or protein (such as a cheeseburger) will take longer to enter the bloodstream because fat may linger in the stomach for 2-4 hours and takes longer to digest. Eating candy bars will not necessary raise blood pressure- perhaps you mean raise blood sugar? If this is the case, it is likely about 30-60 minutes after consumption since chocolate is high in both sugar and fat.

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Response by:

Jane   Korsberg, MS, RD, LD Jane Korsberg, MS, RD, LD
Senior Instructor of Nutrition
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University