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Chewing, also known as mastication, is the process by which food is crushed and ground by the teeth after being properly positioned by the cheek and tongue. The chewing process is actually extremely important and serves as the first step in your digestive process. The way you chew, including how long you chew, can significantly impact your health in ways you likely never knew.

The last time you had something to eat; did you give any thought to how long you chewed? Most likely, much chewing was not done. For most people, as soon as a piece of food enters the mouth, they chew a little and swallow immediately, probably far too quickly especially if they are in hurry or eating on the run. This has almost become a habit or an unconscious reflex.

Why should I chew my food thoroughly?

  • It enhances proper digestion and absorption

Mechanical with chemical digestion of food starts from the mouth. When you chew your food, you begin to mechanically break it down into smaller particles. As you chew, you secrete saliva, and this saliva coats your food with the enzymes amylase and lipase. These enzymes begin to digest carbohydrates and fats content of the food right in your mouth. Digestive enzymes and stomach acids only work on the surface of food fragments. By chewing your food thoroughly, there will be a larger surface area of the food  material available for your digestive enzymes and stomach acid to digest. This also makes it easier for your intestines to absorb nutrients from the food particles as they pass through.

  • It helps in weight management

The longer you chew, the more time it will take you to finish a meal. Chewing your food twice as long as you normally would helps you control your portion sizes, which naturally decreases Calorie consumption, and ultimately helps to avoid weight gain. It takes time (generally about 20 minutes) for your brain to signal to your stomach that you are full. Therefore when we chew food well, we are more apt to notice when we are full.

  • It is good for the teeth

The bones holding the teeth get a ‘workout’ when we chew, helping to keep them strong. The saliva produced while chewing is also beneficial, helping to clear food particles from the mouth and wash away bacteria so there may be less plaque buildup and tooth decay.

  • The taste of food is better enjoyed

If you rush through your meal with hardly any chewing, you are 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 part of the meal and really enjoy all the flavors your food has to offer.

  • It boosts the immune system

Another interesting benefit from chewing is that it stimulates the parotid glands (around the jaw) to release hormones that stimulate the thymus to produce T cells, which play a central role in building the immune system.

How long do I have to chew my food?

How long you chew is dependent on the food material being consumed. Soft fruits/food will break down more easily than chicken or dried food materials. The best approach will be to get a sense of your own eating patterns and further develop the relationship you have with your food. It is recommended that you chew your food completely until it is liquefied and dissolved enough to be swallowed with ease. Doing this would put you on the right track to getting the most benefit from the food.

Posted : 10/10/2017 10:55 am

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