The organs that work together to move food through your body are called your digestive system. Your mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestines are some of the organs that work together to process the things you eat and drink.

In general, it takes your digestive system 10 to 73 hours to move things that you eat through your digestive tract. Liquids are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, and fluids in excess of the body’s needs are eliminated via the kidneys as urine, much faster.

Water absorption can occur as soon as 5 minutes after ingestion and peaks around 20 minutes after ingestion. Your kidneys are continually producing urine, so excess liquids are quickly eliminated via urine.

Once you drink water, it is processed by your digestive tract in an abbreviated digestion process. In other words, not every one of your digestive organs needs to be super involved in each step of processing water. If you’re drinking a lot of water, you might want to make sure that there’s a bathroom nearby.

As you drink water, it enters your stomach and is quickly processed through to your small intestine. The large intestine (colon) also absorbs some water. Nearly all the water is absorbed into the bloodstream from the small intestine.

The excess fluid absorbed in the blood is filtered by the kidneys, which produce the urine that is transported to the bladder.

Water is typically digested more quickly than some other liquids. That’s because there’s very little that your body needs to do to change the water in order to absorb it.

If a liquid has any type of carbohydrate content (such as sugar), dyes, fats, or proteins, then your body needs to process those elements. That’s why it may take additional time to digest liquids like iced tea and sweetened coffee, and even longer to digest smoothies and broth.

In general, simple liquids like tea and juice take about 30 minutes to digest and absorb. Complex liquids like bone broth can take an hour or more.

Water passes through your body much more quickly than food.

When you eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, for example, each bite needs to be squeezed through your esophagus and into your stomach. Once it’s there, your stomach acid begins to break down the sandwich.

The different elements of that sandwich (delicious carbohydrates, sugars, fats, and proteins) are then further broken down and absorbed in your intestines. The items that still remain after the foodstuff has passed through your large intestine (colon) become feces — your poop!

With water, several of these steps are not necessary. There’s nothing to really extract or derive from the water (besides the water itself, which your body needs for a variety of processes). That’s what makes processing water so much faster — technically, it’s a simple filtration process, with very little to actually “digest.”

Digestion time varies according to your body. There are multiple factors that can slow or speed digestion.

  • Your metabolism. Some people’s bodies naturally take longer to digest and eliminate food. This is completely normal.
  • Your diet. Foods that are starchy and soft may digest quickly in your stomach and intestines, but they may not exit your body until later. The amount and type of fiber in foods also affects how quickly foods pass through your digestive system. Your diet makes a difference.
  • Your health history. Health conditions like irritable bowel disease (IBD) and colitis change the rhythms of your daily digestion.
  • Past surgeries. Certain digestive conditions that affect your digestion, such as dumping syndrome, are more common in people who have had a stomach surgery.
  • Activity. How often you move around and exercise may also influence how quickly your body breaks down and digests food.

Water doesn’t just leave your body through the urination process! After your body absorbs water, some of it ends up in your cells and is part of what makes up your blood.

When your body is ready to excrete water that you’ve consumed, it takes several forms:

  • Urine. After your kidneys process water, much of it is excreted through urine.
  • Sweat. When your body needs to control its temperature, water exits your body in the form of sweat.
  • Stool. Your poop contains a certain amount of water that helps make it heavy enough to exit your body.

After you drink water, it doesn’t take long at all for your body to absorb it. Unlike foods, water can be “digested” in as little as 5 minutes. Excess water leaves your body through urination and feces but is also excreted by sweating.

Your body uses water for many of its daily processes, and since it passes through your body so quickly, it’s important to stay hydrated.