Chewing Food: Why You Should Slow Down and Enjoy Your Meal

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. 

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Common Conditions During ADULTHOOD

As we get older, dental care for adults is crucial. Here are a few of the conditions to be aware of:

Gum disease – if your home care routine of brushing and flossing has slipped and you have skipped your regular dental cleanings, bacterial plaque and tartar can build up on your teeth. The plaque and tartar, if left untreated, may eventually cause irreparable damage to your jawbone and support structures, and could lead to tooth loss.

Oral cancer – according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, men over the age of 40 have the greatest risk for oral cancer. About approximately 43,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, tongue or throat area, and the ACS estimates that about 7,000 people will die from these cancers. The use of tobacco products and alcohol increases the risk of oral cancer. Most oral cancers are first diagnosed by the dentist during a routine checkup.

Dental fillings break down – fillings have a life expectancy of eight to 10 years. However, they can last 20 years or longer. When the fillings in your mouth start to break down, food and bacteria can get underneath them and can cause decay deep in the tooth.