The Bowel Transit Time Test

The Bowel Transit Time Test is designed to assess the speed at which food passes through your digestive system:

The Test

Testing BTT can be done using charcoal tablets available at most pharmacies and health stores. Although charcoal is the preferred method for this test, some people have successfully used beetroot as well.

Conducting a BTT test is typically best done within the 2 hours after breakfast, but no less than 2 hours before your next meal and at least 5 hours before going to sleep.

If using charcoal, take between 5-10 grams (check your specific product for what this equates to in capsules), making sure to write down or record the time you did so.

From this point on, take note of each stool after a bowel movement.

Once you observe a darkened or black stool, record the time that this happened and calculate the difference in time between taking the tablets and your first bowel movement with a darkened stool.

This difference in time is your BTT.

Understanding the Results
Less than 12 hours Possible malabsorption issue. The full nutritional value of your food is not being realised by your body.
24-36 hours Ideal. This is the optimal bowel transit time and indicates a potentially good condition from which to approach dietary modifications or improvements in health and long-term well-being.
36-48 hours You may have a slightly sluggish digestive system, you may be slightly constipated, or you may have consumed a higher than usual amount of protein and/or fibre. Repeat the test in 7 days and compare food intake and results.
Greater than 48 hours This is a largely unsatisfactory bowel transit time. Waste materials are remaining inside the colon for too long. Poor transit time increases the risk of colon disease and is linked to a number of serious health conditions and complaints.

When waste products remain inside the colon for more than 48 hours, substances that were supposed to be eliminated begin to decay further, whilst also being re-absorbed back into the bloodstream as toxins. This in turn can cause a number of health problems.

How To Improve Your Digestion

Developing and maintaining a healthy digestive system relies largely on ensuring adequate fibre and fluid intake.

Healthy fibre consumption is characterised by a diet high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, pulses and whole grains, with adequate water intake (at least 2 litres a day for most people).

In addition, regular exercise (at least 3 times a week), has also been shown to significantly improve digestion and support day to day detoxification.

If all of the above are in place, then there may be an enzyme or stomach acid deficiency, which should be addressed separately.