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Fact or fiction: Meat rots in your gut

Does meat take longer than other foods to digest, and does it just sit around inside?

‘Meat takes days to digest and just sits rotting in your gut.’  This is sometimes quoted by vegans as the reason why they don’t eat meat, and comes up on the internet as a good reason to have colonic irrigation! But is it really true? We asked dietitian Fiona Carruthers.

“Meat will generally leave the stomach in 2-3 hours and be fully digested in 4-6 hours. Our digestive system is well designed to digest meat in order to use its wide range of nutrients, such as iron, zinc and B vitamins.

“Meat, along with other protein foods such as fish, are now known to be more satisfying than starchy, carbohydrate foods like bread and pasta, particularly over a longer period of time. This means we feel full for longer. Exactly why this happens is not fully understood yet, although it is believed to be an effect on the messengers in our brain. It certainly doesn’t mean the food is not being digested.”

The bottom line: Myth

Meat moves through your system in the same way as other foods; there’s no ‘sitting around’. Getting enough fibre and fluid will help keep everything – meat or vegetable – moving nicely.

Date modified: 2 December 2019
First published: Apr 2007


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