Optimal transit time is essential for optimal health.
Slow transit time can lead to enhanced toxic bacterial byproducts, such as ammonia, endotoxins, acetate, etc., and create oxidative stress, cellular and neurological damage, which leads to an overactive immune system and ultimately, autoimmune issues.
Speeding up transit time can help to prevent and reduce many of these negative symptoms.
Signs & symptoms of an unhealthy gut
Slow, tarry, loose, sticky, stool and incomplete bowel movements are a sure sign of gut inflammation, which can be caused by slow transit time. You don’t necessarily have to be constipated to have slow transit time.
After following the guidelines of my Alpha Energy Nutrition Course, I have improved my health a lot and now get 2-3 bowel movements a day. It’s quick, well-formed and a ghost wipe every single time. That’s a sign of good digestion, fast transit time and no intestinal inflammation.
Kiwi is an absolutely remarkable fruit with great gut benefits.
It positively modulates the gut bacteria, by increasing anti-inflammatory (Faecalibacterium prausnitzii (R)) and L-dopa (Bifidobacterium spp. and Veillonellaceae) and GABA (Lachnospira spp) producing strains (R).
And the reason I say it’s very effective is because just 2-3 kiwi per day is needed for this potent effect.
We found that responder rate to kiwi fruit was 54.5% in the constipated group. They have improvement in complete spontaneous bowel motion per week, symptom scores for constipation, as well as in colonic transit time.(R)
Kiwi can help with constipation through a few mechanisms. Kiwi:
- Reduces intestinal inflammation. Inflamed cells can’t produce energy properly, which means they can’t contract the intestine properly for speeding up transit time.
- Contains actinidin (a unique proteolytic enzyme belonging to the class of thiol-proteases abundant in kiwifruit) which is thought to have laxative effects.
- Increases water retention in the small bowel and ascending colon and increases the total colonic volume (R).
- Is high in insoluble fiber, which is known to speed up transit time. This study found that, despite that most of the fibers in kiwifruit are insoluble fiber, none of the patients reported bloating, gas, or intolerance (R).
Another great benefit of kiwi is that its sugar aren’t malabsorbed. There is a common fear that fructose is high FODMAP and can worsen bloating and gut issue. But for fructose to cause bloating, it has to be malabsorbed in order to reach the colon where the bacteria is. This study found that none of the people who consumed kiwi experienced any malabsorption, whereas some of those eating apple did.
Consumption of two green kiwifruit led to no evidence of carbohydrate malabsorption (0/20), whereas consumption of one apple was associated with carbohydrate malabsorption in 6/20 participants (P = .008).(R)
I’ve noticed the gut benefits of kiwi within 1 day since adding it to my diet. My wife and I consume 2 kiwi each roughly 1 hour before bed, as it’s also been shown to improve sleep quality.
Prunes (dried plums) are a common remedy for constipation. And it’s not due to it’s fiber content, as prune juice helps as well.
Large amounts of phenolic compounds (184 mg/100 g), mainly as neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids, may aid in the laxative effect.(R)
This is a no-brainer as some of you might know. It’s not a coincidence that you have to pitch a loaf right after your first, morning coffee. Coffee doesn’t increase stool frequency, but only speeds up transit time.
Results revealed an increase in motility index within four minutes after ingestion of both regular and decaffeinated coffee (p less than 0.05) in the eight responders, but not in the six non-responders. The increase in rectosigmoid motility induced by coffee lasted at least 30 minutes.(R)
I truly think that coffee is saving humanity from a host of negative effects induced by our modern society/lifestyle/dietary habits. Results may vary ofc in responders and non-responders.
#4 Coconut oil/MCT oil/long-chain saturated fat
Fat, specifically saturated fat, can be very helpful for stimulating bowel movements.
As some of you might know or have experienced, MCT is known to cause “disaster pants” in high doses.
This study found that medium and long chain saturated fat were able to increase transit time.
Modifying dietary intake of MCFAs and LCFAs may be used to control GI motility or visceral pain and thus modulate the symptoms of functional GI disorders. The effect is dependent on the expression of FABP4.(R)
Furthermore, heptadecanoic acid (C17:0) and stearic acid (C18:0) are also able to speed up transit time, by activating the GPR40 receptor.
Heptadecanoic acid (C17:0) and stearic acid (C18:0), as the most abundant odd- and even-numbered carbon SLCFAs in the colon lumen, can promote rat colonic muscle contraction and increase stool frequency.(R)
Lastly, coconut oil can also help to prevent constipation by reducing the abundance of methane-producing bacteria (Methanobacteriaceae), which is known to slow transit time, make stool hard and contribute to constipation (R).
Figs are another delicious late summer to fall fruit that’s been shown to have laxative effect.
Consumption of flixweed (it contains mucilage, which accounts for its laxative effects) or fig [total consumption per day: flixweed 60g/d and fig 90g/d], compared to a control group, caused a significant improvement in IBS symptoms including frequency of pain, distention, frequency of defecation and hard stool. Also, the findings showed a significant increase in quality of life, as well as satisfaction with overall bowel habits. However, flixweed and fig intake had no significant effects on abdominal pain severity and C-reactive protein levels.(R)
The average fig is about 50g, so this would be about 2 figs per day.
Figs are a good source of cellular which increases fecal excretion by increasing water content, bulk and viscosity, and that both water-soluble and insoluble cellulose increase fecal excretion (R).
Although the authors of the study credit cellulose for most of the benefits of figs, figs might also have anti-opioid effects. Figs has even been shown to reduce constipation in mice opioid agonist (loperamide; similar effects to morphine) treated mice (R). So it appears that figs might have opioid antagonistic properties. Milk can cause constipation in some individuals, which might be relieved by an opioid antagonist, such as figs or coffee.
Garlic is held in high regard in many cultures all over the world that could treat a whole host of conditions. For example, the Assyrians prepared tea from garlic and solid resin, which was used as a remedy against constipation (R).
Garlic has strong antibiotics effects as it’s powerful against bacteria, parasites, worms, fungus, etc. It can also help to speed up transit time by reducing the abundance of methane-producing, transit-slowing, bacteria (Methanobacteriaceae) (R).
Since I cheated a little with this one, as it’s not a food that you eat in bulk, but rather an additive so to speak, I can add a few other additives here as well. Other herbs that can also lower Methanobacteriaceae include, coriander, turmeric, ginger and cinnamon.
#7 (Bonus) Cocoa
This is mainly based on my own experience. I couldn’t find a study that cocoa powder speeds up transit time in animals or humans, but cocoa can help against constipation or gut irritation in a few ways. 1) It’s a rich source of antioxidants which can help to reduce oxidative stress, 2) it contains stearic acid which promotes transit time and 3) it has a prebiotic effect which increases Bifidobacteriaceae, Lactobacillaceae and saccharolytic butyrate-producing bacteria like Roseburia (R).
For instance, the quantities of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli in adults with functional constipation were significantly reduced compared with control subjects, whereas the quantity of Bacteroides was increased . Mancabelli L et al.  found that the gut microbiota of chronic constipation individuals was depleted of the members of Bacteroides, Roseburia, and Coprococcus, but the flora involved in hydrogen production, methanogenesis, and glycerol degradation exhibited high abundances .(R)
So in theory cocoa should improve transit time by increase certain bacterial strains. I find cocoa powder more of a stool stabilizer. For example, if it’s too dry, cocoa improves moister and softness, whereas if it’s too soft, cocoa improves the density.
What to avoid
Eliminating problematic foods is equally effective at speeding up transit time than adding certain foods. I’ll just list a few food items that have been shown by research to have a probability of contributing to constipation, but as we all know, it’s highly individual. Someone might experience issues from a certain food whereas others might not.
#1 Non ripe banana
Non ripe banana is actually frequently recommended to help with gut issues, since it’s a good source of resistant starch, which is supposed to increase the good bacteria. But that’s very flawed thinking.
Unripe bananas contain 100-250 mg tannins/100 g and have high amylase-resistant starch content. Thus, they can cause or aggravate pre-existing constipation. This property has been used in the BRAT (banana, rice, apple sauce, and toast) diet for diarrhea.(R)
#2 A1 Milk
Cow’s milk tend to be allergic for a lot of people and this can contribute to constipation. However, people tend to tolerate A2 cows milk much better and goat milk the best.
The reason why is due to sensitivity to gluten, amylase trypsin inhibitor, lectin and fructans, which causes an inflammatory response when ingested.
#4 Excess fiber
More and more studies are finding that fiber doesn’t prevent constipation in most people and might even worsen bowel health, which few people are actually aware of. Many people who have done the Alpha Energy Nutrition Course have reported to me that their bowel health has surprisingly improved a lot once they reduced their fiber intake a lot.
And this is because fiber can also slow transit time and feed the gut bacteria (not always a good thing), which increases the production of harmful bacteria byproducts.