From Dr. Mercola:
You probably don’t give much thought to chewing your food. For most of us it’s second-nature, and once you put food in your mouth chewing it is likely as automatic as breathing.
Paying more attention to the way you chew, however, especially how long and how thoroughly you chew, may be a simple way to improve your health. People who are obese, for instance, tend to chew less (and for shorter periods) than those who are a normal weight.1
Research also shows that increasing the number of chews before swallowing reduces meal size by up to nearly 15 percent, which researchers believe might be an effective strategy to help with weight management.2
“Eating slowly contributes to a lower risk of obesity, probably because it could aid appetite control. Chewing thoroughly is an effective strategy to reduce eating rate ,” the researchers explained in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.3
Yet, chewing slowly is useful for far more than just weight management.
Chewing Thoroughly Is the First Step to Healthy Digestion
The chewing process, also known as mastication, is the first step in your digestive process – one you don’t want to rush through. Chewing breaks your food down from large particles into smaller particles that are more easily digested.
This also makes it easier for your intestines to absorb nutrients from the food particles as they pass through.
Research presented at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo in Chicago showed that when participants chewed almonds longer, the smaller particles were better and more quickly absorbed by the body.
In those who chewed less, the larger particles were eliminated by the body. Purdue University professor and nutrition scientist Richard Mattes explained, “Particle size [affects the] bioaccessibility of the energy of the food that is being consumed. The more you chew, the less is lost and more is retained in the body.”4
Further, the chewing process mashes your food into small pieces and partially liquefies it, making it easier to digest. Digestion is actually a very demanding task for your body, requiring a great deal of energy, especially if forced to digest improperly chewed food.
Chewing properly allows your stomach to work more efficiently and break down your food faster. In addition, the longer you chew, the more time the enzymes in your saliva have to start breaking down your food, making 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. Longer Chewing Helps You Eat Slowly
The longer you chew, the more time it will take you to finish a meal, and research shows that eating slowly can help you to eat less and, ultimately, to avoid weight gain or even lose weight.
For example, chewing your food twice as long as you normally would will