Chewing food properly is not something most people give much thought to, but it is an important step in digestion and further absorption of vital nutrients. Most people are unaware of the fact that digestion actually begins in the mouth (not the stomach). The action of chewing helps break down our food mechanically into a finer texture, thus increasing the surface area for saliva to do its work. It’s important to look at the many reasons why we are told to chew food thoroughly.
Consider these following reasons to chew your food properly:
1. It Increases the Absorption of Vitamins, Minerals and Other Nutrients
When food is broken down thoroughly through chewing, it is easier for the nutrients to be absorbed by the intestines. For instance, certain foods, such as nuts and some raw vegetables cannot be broken down completely in the stomach and need to be chewed thoroughly.
2. Helps in Maintaining a Healthy Weight
The longer a person takes to chew his or her food, the longer it will take to finish a meal. People who eat slower tend to eat less. As people eat, a message is sent to the brain to indicate that they are getting full. If you chew too fast, you may be done with your food, but the brain still thinks you are hungry. When this occurs, you are more likely to continue to eat and consume more calories, which can lead to weight gain or interfere with weight loss.
3. Helps in proper break down of fats
This is important for a couple of reasons. Enzymes in the saliva help break down the food. For instance, lingual lipase is one of the enzymes produced by the salivary glands under the tongue, which helps break down fats. Longer exposure to saliva while chewing food means longer exposure to this enzyme. If fat is not broken down thoroughly and is left unprocessed, it can lead to digestive problems. Longer exposure to saliva through chewing food properly also helps the food travel down the esophagus easier, since it lubricates or moistens the foods.
4. Less Energy is Needed to Digest Properly Chewed Food
If you do not chew your food properly, other parts of the digestive system have to use more energy and work harder to break down the food. Smaller particles of food broken down by proper chewing allow the food to move through the entire digestive track easier. The stomach can work more efficiently and quicker to break down food, allowing further efficient absorption of nutrients in small intestines.
5. Helps Teeth Stay Healthy
The process of chewing food properly also helps the teeth. It is a workout for bones holding the teeth and helps keep them strong. The saliva produced while chewing properly is needed to wash away bacteria in the mouth. The saliva released also helps clear food particles out of the mouth. If there is less bacteria in the mouth, there may be reduced plaque buildup and tooth decay.
6. Increases the Ability to Taste and Enjoy the Food
Meal time should be a time to relax and enjoy the pleasure of good food. Taking the time to chew each bite thoroughly, is not only good for the body, but can help feed the soul. If you are chewing food thoroughly, you will be definitely enjoying each and every bite of the dish.
Tips to chew well
- Chew food slowly and steadily.
- Keep the ambience relaxed rather than loud or distracting. That means no sitting in front of the TV while eating.
- Eat smaller morsels; smaller the bites, the better you will chew.
- Stop only when the mouthful is totally liquid and has lost its texture.
- Take another bite only when you have finished chewing completely and swallowed.
- Do not drink water in between meals. You can sip small amount if required.
Making a conscious effort to start benefiting from chewing will be an ideal way to start. A lot of people say chew a set number of times before swallowing your food. Do not worry about counting how many times you chew each bite; just make sure each bite is liquid before you swallow. We have given you enough reasons to start with this healthier practice from your next meal itself!
Make Today Healthier than yesterday!