You probably don't give much thought to chewing your food.
For most of us, it's second-nature, and once you put food in your mouth, chewing is likely as automatic as breathing.
Why should you properly chew your food?
Well, there are many reasons, but I will give you 7.
7 Reasons to Chew Your Food Properly
1. Absorb More Nutrients and Energy From Your Food
Chewing breaks your food down from large particles into smaller particles that are more easily digested. This process makes it easier for your intestines to absorb nutrients from the food particles as they pass through.
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight
The longer you chew, the more time it will take you to finish a meal, and research shows that eating slowly can help you to eat less and, ultimately, to avoid weight gain or even lose weight.
For example, chewing your food twice as long as you normally would, will instantly help you control your portion sizes, which naturally decreases calorie consumption.
It takes time (generally about 20 minutes) for your brain to signal to your stomach that you’re full, and this may explain why one study found people reported feeling fuller when they ate slowly.
They also ended up consuming about 10 percent fewer calories when they ate at a slow pace, and presumably chewed slower, as opposed to when they were rushing.
3. Your Food Gets More Exposure to Your Saliva
Saliva contains digestive enzymes, so the longer you chew, the more time these enzymes have to start breaking down your food, making digestion easier on your stomach and small intestine. One of these enzymes is lingual lipase, an enzyme that helps break down fats, for example.
One of these enzymes is lingual lipase, an enzyme that helps break down fats, for example.
Saliva also helps to lubricate your food so it’s easier on your esophagus.
4. Easier Digestion
The chewing process predigests your food into small pieces and partially liquefies it, making it easier to digest.
Digestion is actually a very demanding task for your body, requiring a great deal of energy, especially if forced to digest improperly chewed food.
Chewing properly allows your stomach to work more efficiently and break down your food faster.
5. It’s Good for Your Teeth
The bones holding your teeth get a ‘workout’ when you chew, helping to keep them strong.
The saliva produced while chewing is also beneficial, helping to clear food particles from your mouth and wash away bacteria so there may be less plaque buildup and tooth decay.
Less time in the dentist chair, can't complain about that, right?
6. Less Excess Bacteria Lingering in Your Intestines
When improperly chewed food enters your stomach, it may remain undigested when it enters your intestines.
There, bacteria will begin to break it down, or in other words, it will start to putrefy, potentially leading to gas and bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, cramping and other digestive problems.
Have you felt like that before?
7. Enjoy and Taste Your Food
If you rush through your meal with hardly any chewing, you’re also not really tasting or enjoying the food.
When you take the time to properly chew your food, it forces you to slow down, savor each morsel and really enjoy all the flavors your food has to offer.
The Dangers of Chewing for No Reason…
While chewing is essential when you eat, chewing without eating food can be counterproductive.
When you chew gum, for instance, you send your body, physical signals that food is about to enter your body. The enzymes and acids that are activated when you chew gum are therefore released, but without the food, they’re intended to digest.
This can cause bloating, an overproduction of stomach acid, and can compromise your ability to produce sufficient digestive secretions when you actually do eat food.
Besides this, chewing gum can cause jaw muscle imbalances (if you chew on one side more than the other) and even TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder in your jaw, which can be a painful chronic condition.
I generally recommend avoiding gum chewing, but if you do chew gum, do so only occasionally or right before a meal when the acid and enzyme stimulation may actually be beneficial.
Counting Your Bites Might Help You Lose Weight
There are better strategies for weight loss than counting calories, like focusing on the nutritional content of your food instead, for starters.
Chewing more thoroughly might be a very effective strategy to help with weight management.
Increasing the number of chews before swallowing reduces meal size by nearly 15 %.
You may have heard the old adage about chewing your food 32 times before swallowing. You don't need to be this strict, as the amount of chewing any given food requires will vary depending on its type and texture. The "32 times" rule is therefore largely ambiguous, although it does steer you toward slowing down your chewing, which is a good choice for most people.
Instead of strict counting, here's a guide to ensure that you're chewing in a way that will support your health.
Generally speaking, you'll want to:
- Take smaller bites of food to begin with (it's easier to chew smaller pieces)
- Eat in a relaxed, non-distracted environment; eating on the run or while you're working or watching TV is not conducive to proper chewing.
- Chew slowly and steadily
- Chew until your mouthful of food is liquefied or has lost all of its texture
- Finish chewing and swallowing completely before taking another bite of food
- Wait to drink fluids until you've swallowed
Aside from the all the health benefits, chewing properly helps you to really enjoy your food.
If you rush through your meal with hardly any chewing, you're not really tasting or enjoying the food.
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