Proper Chewing Improves Digestion

There are four benefits of chewing food properly that increases overall health and wellbeing.  Let’s go through these benefits:

  • Proper Chewing Prevents Overeating

Research has shown that chewing food slowly and thoroughly can help a person feel full faster. In a recent study, women who ate fast consumed more calories, and felt less full than those who ate slower and chewed their food correctly. Similarly, in a study by Iowa State University, researchers found that subjects that chewed their food more reported a lower appetite.

Did you know you should chew your food a minimum of 15 times before swallowing. Chewing upwards of 30-34 times is even better!A hard vegetable will take longer to be chewed properly compared to a piece of soft fruit. You should chew until food has turned to liquid and is well-mixed with saliva.  When your food is turned to liquid before entering the stomach, your body is able to digest your food faster and more efficiently, allowing faster nutrient absorption and a wonderful sense of fullness because your body is satisfied.

  • Throat care

When we eat, food is chewed to an appropriate particle size, mixed with saliva and rolled into a smooth shape by the tongue, before we swallow. This ball of food is formally called the bolus. If food isn’t chewed to a proper particle size, or still has sharp and hard edges (imagine chewing potato chips fast!), the bolus may harm the throat when swallowing, or the bolus might come apart.

As chewing, swallowing and breathing in humans are intricately linked, eating fast may lead to choking or the food harming the throat on it’s way down. This is how a throat infection can occur.

  • Chewing promotes optimum digestion

Digestion starts in the mouth, as saliva contains enzymes to break down starch and fats. Chewing starts the digestive process even before your food reaches the stomach. After swallowing, food particles reach the stomach to be broken down by the acidic gastric juices. Chemistry tells us that the larger the surface area to volume ratio a particle is, the quicker it is eroded and in this case, digested. Conversely, large particles make be difficult to break down, which slows down your digestion, and can slow down your metabolism over time.

A study was conducted on how the particle size of chewed almonds affected the bioavailability of the nutrients in them. Not surprisingly, the more an almond was chewed, the smaller the particles, the more nutrients were extracted from it.

By not chewing enough, larger particles pass through the digestive system undigested causing problems such as bloating, gas, gastric cramps and diarrhea.

  • Increases Mindfulness

Eating mindlessly often leads to overeating, especially when done in front of a TV or while on your phone. Mindful eating is savoring one’s food through appreciating the way it looks, the aroma, texture and taste. By chewing slowly and appreciating these aspects of your food, you cultivate an awareness of what and how much is being eaten.

Mindful eating not only slows you down so that you consume less. Mindful eating can potentially decrease stress levels and ensure better digestion. Science[1] shows that when the body is under stress, digestion is impacted as the body may regard it as secondary to preparing for fight or flight reflexes. Mindful eating focuses attention on the meal, relaxing the mind and thereby ensuring the body digests food properly.

Out of all the health benefits in eating slowly and chewing our food properly, the most important of all is the ability to connect with our loved ones while we eat. It allows space for having meaningful interactions, not just with our food, but with our friends and family too.

Try to make each meal a potential social event, if possible. Catch up with your family over breakfast or teach your kids the importance of slowing down to eat and how it makes them feel. Have lunch outside the office with your colleagues. Turn off the TV or iPhone. Reconnect with old friends through dinner.

Start to eat slowly and see how it impacts your health and wellbeing.

 

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