What if you knew that one simple act could improve your nutrient status, support gentle weight loss, improve your digestion and increase your enjoyment from and appreciation of food? We would all jump on board wouldn’t we? Well, it really can be that easy!! What is the secret? Chew your food properly!
While this sounds simple, most of us are not masticating our food thoroughly. We eat on the run, while in a rush, while multitasking and without thinking about what we are really doing. This takes a toll on our waistlines, our nutrient status and our digestive systems!
During the chewing process we break down our food both mechanically and chemically. When we chew properly, we grind our food into small pieces. This increases its surface area for subsequent break down by salivary enzymes. The digestion of both carbohydrates and fats begins in the mouth. If food is not chewed enough it can hinder proper digestion and prevent our bodies from breaking down and assimilating nutrients effectively. Basically, the more you chew, the better you digest and the more nutrients you will extract from your food.
Proper chewing also reduces digestive issues including but not limited to bloating, indigestion, bacterial overgrowth and constipation! Effective chewing encourages the signalling that contributes to the release of hydrochloric acid and other important digestive enzymes. When these digestive juices are not present food may sit in the stomach for longer than normal and begin to ferment resulting in gas, bloating and indigestion. Also, when larger than normal food particles enter the digestive tract it may feed unhealthy bacteria causing gas and digestive pain. Finally, partially digested food may sit in the intestine and result in constipation.
Interestingly, chewing for longer also contributes to weight loss. One reason is that when we chew for a long time we are giving our brains the opportunity to turn off the hormones responsible for hunger, and increase the feeling of satiation.
Finally, taking the time to chew increases our appreciation and enjoyment of food!
So, how much chewing is enough chewing? Do you need to chew each bite 60 times? It is best to chew your food enough to make it into a liquid without much texture. An easy way to spend more time chewing is to set your fork down between each mouthful and focus on the flavours, the nutrition and the texture of the food you are about to swallow.
Give it a try! Your digestive system will thank you for it.