Have you ever noticed how many times you chew your food? This might seem not so important, but it could affect your overall health. Chewing your food properly is essential for adequate digestion. Meals should be eaten sitting down, in a relaxed environment without any distraction, to ensure the food is properly chewed.
So how many times should you chew your food for adequate digestion? According to studies food should be chewed about 32 times, foods that are harder to chew, such as steak and nuts may need up to 40 chews per mouthful. For foods that are softer such as mashed potato and watermelon, you can get away with chewing just 5-10 times.
Here are 5 reasons why you should all be more mindful of chewing your food.
1. Saliva Starts the Digestion Process
Chewing is the first step of digestion. When you chew up your food properly, it allows more time for your saliva to get to work. Saliva helps eases the passage of food down into your stomach without aggravating the oesophagus. As you chew your food, more digestive enzymes are produced. These help to break down food into smaller chunks to promote better digestion. If food is not chewed properly, larger particles enter the digestive tract and cause digestive problems such as gas, bloating, constipation, food reactions, headaches and lowered energy levels.
2. Better Nutrition Absorption
Food contains all types of nutrients your body need to grow and develop, especially proteins. Protein is an essential nutrient because it is broken down into amino acids, which are necessary for the growth and development of muscle. We do not create or store amino acids in the body which makes proteins so important. Breaking down food into smaller particles means that it is easier for your body to digest proteins and ensures better absorption of amino acids from the food you are eating.
3. Help in Portion Controlling
When you take the time to chew properly, you eat more slowly. That way, you are able to judge whether you’re full, or you’re hungry. In general, it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to signal to your stomach that it is full. By chewing your food thoroughly, you will allow your body time to get messages back to the brain whether you feel you’re hungry, or full. Therefore, if you are eating slower, it is less likely that you will overeat.
4. Nourishing The Gut
Probiotic formulas can be expensive and not everyone can afford to buy one. However, chewing your food thoroughly breaks down the food fibres and the starches. These digested fibres feed the gut bugs you want to survive and thrive in your gut. When we are not feeding the “good” gut microbes to maintain healthy and balanced gut health, we can create an inflamed and irritated gut lining. Inflammation in the gut can also lead to many chronic health problems.
5. Reduce The Risk of Bacteria Overgrowth
Chewing your food properly is also important to reduce the risk of bacterial overgrowth. Food particles that aren’t broken down properly can cause bacterial overgrowth in the colon, which leads to indigestion, bloating, and constipation. Chewing your food sends messages to the gastrointestinal system that food is on its way. This triggers hydrochloric acid production in the stomach, helping food move through the digestive tract and reducing bacterial overgrowth.
Begin by noticing how many times you normally chew your food before you swallow. Then, slowly works up your way to increase the amount of time chewing to make sure your food is properly chewed before you swallow.