SLOW DOWN AND CHEW!
Your personal trainer may encourage you to “Eat more protein!” Your doctor is likely to advise, “Watch those saturated fats and reduce your calories.” But your grandma, who told you to “Chew your food,” probably knows best. Granny intuitively sensed that the only way her home-cooked meals would be able to fuel our scrawny childhood bodies would be through slow and proper digestion. Now experts recognize that chewing is one of the major contributors of nutrient absorption in the bloodstream.
“obese subjects ate faster than lean subjects and provides evidence to support the epidemiological studies showing a positive association between eating rate and BMI.” Zhu 2013
Recently scientists revealed how fast eaters were at increased risk for being overweight and having metabolic syndrome and multiple cardiovascular-disease risk factors. Rapid eaters don’t fully chew their food and may not activate the neurological pathways needed to light the digestive fire. Poorly chewed food may create dysbiosis of the intestine, gut inflammation and leakage of endotoxin into the blood stream. Two studies have found that chewing forty times before swallowing led to decreased levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and increased levels of two critically important gut peptides, cholecystokinin (CCK) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1).
“Don’t gobble your food. Fletcherize, or chew very slowly while you eat. Talk on pleasant topics. Don’t be in a hurry. Take time to masticate and cultivate a cheerful appetite while you eat,” wrote Horace Fletcher in 1912
Overall, mindful eating and chewing at least forty times per swallow is linked to reduced food intake. Thorough chewing may activate the vagus nerve that communicates with the digestive tract, optimizing digestion and the release of gut hormones, which help us to balance blood sugar and burn more fat. These hormones are linked to improved insulin and leptin sensitivity and better metabolic health.
“a higher number of chewing cycles before swallowing reduces food intake by approximately 12%…”
- Many studies suggest that normal-weight participants eat more slowly than overweight and obese subjects
- Increasing the number of chewing cycles before swallowing reduces appetite and increases plasma concentration of key satiety hormones for 3 hours after eating
- Slow down and chew your food thoroughly (~ 40 bites) before slow swallowing
- Don’t eat while stressed: try deep breathing, prayer or meditation prior to eating
- Chewing food more thoroughly will improve digestion
- Improved digestion is linked with better ecology of the gut microflora and reduced endotoxin leakage into the blood stream
Further Reading: Belly Fat Effect unveils the whole story about diet-gut bacteria interactions, the circadian clock system and metabolism, fat burning, appetite, and much more.
PhD, Y. Z., & PhD, J. H. H. (2013). Increasing the Number of Chews before SwallowingReduces Meal Size in Normal-Weight, Overweight,and Obese Adults. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 1–6. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2013.08.020