How Long does It Take for Food to Reach Your Stomach?

It takes about seven seconds for food to go through your mouth, down your esophagus and into your stomach. The esophagus is about 10 inches (25 centimeters) long and doesn't instantly move food from point A to point B — there are muscles in the esophagus that repeatedly contract, kind of squishing the food down to the stomach. The stomach then breaks the food down into liquid so it can move through the rest of the digestive tract.

More Digestive Facts:

  • From its beginning (the mouth) to its end (the anus) there's about 30 feet (9 meters) of digestive tubing. The small intestine accounts for 20 feet (6 meters) of this tubing.

  • Food can stay in the stomach for a few hours to a few days, depending on what was eaten, but most food leaves the stomach within four or five hours.

  • Gum does not stay in your stomach for seven years, no matter what your first grade teacher told you. It can stay in as long as a week, however, and if several pieces are swallowed it can block the intestines. So, it still isn't a good idea to swallow it.

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More Info: National Institutes of Health

Discuss this Article

Post 6

I've swallowed gum my entire life, over four decades now -- countless thousands of pieces with never an issue. I think the medical concerns are fictional paranoia.

Post 4

I just read something about gum not staying in your stomach for seven years.

Post 2

I liked the part about the chewing gum! I usually tell my son, if he swallows gum, it will get stuck in his intestines!

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