It may seem like common sense to chew your food well before swallowing, but many of us aren’t taking the practice seriously enough. We all chew, but we don’t all chew – that is, slowly and thoroughly. Digestion starts in the mouth, not in the stomach, which is why the way you chew can make a major difference in how your body responds not only to the foods your eat but also to the way you eat them.
3 Reasons Chewing Food Better Improves Your Health
1. Better Digestion
Even before food enters your mouth, glands in your mouth and throat secrete saliva and begin the digestion process – the sight and smell of food along ignite salivation. Once you begin chewing, saliva lubricates the food and contains enzymes amylase and lipase, which break down starches and fats, respectively. In fact, chewing for one minute digests up to half of the starch in food before you even swallow!
Chewing sends a signal to your digestive tract that it is receiving food and better prepares it for the work ahead. Meanwhile, your teeth help to physically break down food to mush. The better you chew food in your mouth, the less stress you put on the stomach and rest of the digestive tract later. Stomach acid can mix more thoroughly with well-chewed food – the more surface area exposed to stomach acid, the more effectively the stomach can do its job.
2. Nutrient Assimilation
Better digestion spells better assimilation of nutrients. Longer chewing increases the amount of protein your body can metabolize from foods as well as makes some vitamins and minerals more available for absorption, particularly from raw fruits and vegetables.
A 2013 study showed that the size of the food particles after chewing affect the bio-accessibility of the energy of the food being consumed. Larger food particles, which result from improper chewing, can actually feed fungi and bacteria while in transit. The take-way: the more you chew, the more nutrients the body retains from the food consumed.
3. Weight Loss
Weight loss goes hand in hand with improved digestion. Ironically, chewing more thoroughly allows you to not only better assimilate nutrients but also better assimilate calories. But, the uptake in calorie absorption is minimal compared to the effects that thoroughly chewing food has on your capacity to gain and lose weight. For every five seconds you chew, you burn an extra calorie. Meanwhile, taking the time to chew can lead you to consume some 10 percent fewer calories than you regularly do. It generally takes your brain about 20 minutes to signal to your stomach that you are full, so use this time wisely by taking it gracefully slow. Honor and savor each bite and you may lose weight because of it!