You probably heard it a thousand times from an adult family member at the dinner table: “Slow down and chew your food well!” Odds are, as a kid, you probably didn’t listen to them. But it turns out that those pesky adults were offering some good advice. This helps when it comes to getting the most from food nutrients as well as how to avoid stomach upset.
While it’s true that we are what we eat, we are also how we eat. In our busy society, too many individuals rush through meals. You either skip chewing your food or just simply wash down what you put in your mouth with a variety of liquids. Such food practices lead to serious digestive issues such as bloating. Moreover, it also causes consistent overeating because the body is not getting any nutrition from the poorly chewed food.
Do you know digestion begins with chewing?
The actual physical act of digesting food starts in your mouth, but not in the stomach. This is perhaps one of the most critical reasons why you need to chew your food well. It sets up the entire digestive process for success by allowing nutrients in food to actually be utilized by the body for its natural processes.
When it comes to the actual act of chewing, your teeth, tongue, and salivary glands all play critical roles that set up the digestive process. Your teeth grind down consumed food into more manageable and smaller bites, your salivary glands secrete various enzymes on the food to aid in absorption, and your tongue manipulates the food in your mouth to get it finely chewed before it enters the stomach.
Reasons to Chew Your Food Properly
1. Aids in proper digestion of food
When you chew your food well before swallowing, it helps to improve your digestion. This is true both mechanically and chemically. Your saliva contains the enzymes, which digest fats and starches on the spot. If you don’t chew your food well enough, this process is compromised. This can lead to problems such as poor nutrient absorption, heartburn, constipation and acid reflux.
2. Enhances nutrient absorption
Chewing well gives enough time for the stomach to secrete the necessary digestive juices. This help to prepare itself well to promote a healthy digestion. This aids in complete digestion, efficient nutrient absorption and regular bowel movements.
3. Maintain a healthy weight
The longer you chew, the more time it will take you to finish a meal. Research shows that eating slowly can help you to eat less. This helps 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.
Because, it takes generally about 20 minutes for your brain to signal to your stomach that you’re full. 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. Presumably they also chewed food well, as opposed to when they were rushing.
4. Affects your mood
An incomplete digestive process leads to a buildup of gases in the stomach. This bloating is uncomfortable and can have a negative impact on how you feel, both physically and emotionally. Additionally, when you’re not getting the full benefit of the foods you eat, your body is lacking the resources it normally uses to keep you feeling healthy and energized. This can leave you feeling fatigued and stressed.
5. Prevents diabetes
When you consume food, the brain signals the pancreas to secrete sufficient insulin. This will help to cope up with the sugar released after the meal. For this to happen, we need to give sufficient notice to the body through chewing. Eating untimely and just pushing food into the mouth when the body is under-prepared may result in disturbances in insulin utilization/absorption resulting in early diabetes or insulin resistance.
6. Prevents choking
Choking occurs when the wind pipe becomes blocked by a foreign object, in this case, food. Often, in the event that food goes down the wrong pipe you can cough it up. But a larger, less-chewed chunk of food might get lodged in the windpipe. One way to help reduce the likelihood of choking is to chew your food well to be easy to swallow. The additional awareness that consciously chewing creates will also help you to avoid the danger of choking.
7. 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. This makes digestion easier on your stomach and small intestine. 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.
8. Gives satiety
Chewing is also an important component of mindful eating techniques. Chewing helps in triggering the senses to experience various tastes and to feel satisfied with a small portion. Our taste buds are made for a purpose and should be allowed to experience various flavours, tasted and consistencies. When you involve fully, chew well and eat healthily, you will be able to interlink “mind-body-food” and will look at eating as a healthy and nourishing experience.
9. Good for your teeth
The bones holding your teeth get a ‘workout’ when you chew your food well. This helps 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.