When you dig into your dinner or nosh on a post-workout snack, you're probably focused on satisfying your cravings and fueling your body. But whether you're indulging in a treat or eating healthy, the way you chew might be having an effect on your overall enjoyment of a meal. Chewing food might seem simple and instinctive, but the way you chew may impact your oral and gut health. Learn more about how and why to chew properly, and you'll probably relish your food even more.
The Purpose of Chewing
Since the dawn of time, chewing has been used as the primary way of breaking down food into smaller, more digestible particles that can easily pass through the digestive tract. Of course, different foods take a different amount of chewing to break down, and early hominids likely used their teeth to grind down plants and break through tough meat sources. Today, most foods are tender enough to be pulverized with a moderate amount of chewing, but there's still something to be said for taking your time to chew slowly and mindfully. Here are some of the benefits of prolonged and thorough chewing:
- Chewing helps to signal the beginning of the digestive process. As your body releases saliva to help break down food, it also relaxes the stomach ahead of digestion to allow food and nutrients to pass through more easily.
- Chewing slowly gives the stomach enough time to signal the brain for satiety. In fact, a study published in the journal Appetitefound that chewing food slowly actually reduces food intake between meals, meaning it can be a great tip to help you curb overeating and increase your satisfaction at mealtimes.
- When food particles are left on the teeth, they provide fuel for bacteria that can cause tooth decay. Prolonged and thorough chewing produces more saliva, which helps remineralize teeth and restore the pH of your mouth after eating acids and sugars, notes DentistryIQ.
Chewing Food Properly
There's really no perfect way to chew your food, as factors like the type of food and the condition of your teeth can affect how you break down what you eat. There are, however, some guidelines to make sure your food has been properly chewed before you swallow. You might, for instance, choose a goal of "chews" to hit before you swallow, such as 20. You can also simply make sure your food is completely pulverized before you swallow and begin digesting.
If you find that you have a tendency to eat too quickly (and chew too fast), you can set some rules for eating to help you do so more mindfully. Only eat at prescribed times and while sitting at a table. Make sure you avoid other activities when eating, instead taking the time to focus on your food and your satiety level. Then, always brush after meals to clean away leftover food particles. The Colgate 360° Advanced 4 Zone toothbrush removes bacteria from teeth, tongue, cheeks and gums. You can incorporate brushing into your routine and use it to signal the end of mealtime.
Chewing might seem like a no-brainer, but the way you eat can contribute a lot to your overall health. Take time to slow down, eat mindfully and chew slowly, and you could find you eat less and enjoy your food even more.