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Why Should We Eat Food Slowly & Chew Properly

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

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 affecting your overall enjoyment of a meal. Chewing food might seem simple and instinctive, but how you chew may impact your oral and gut health. Learn more about how and why to chew correctly, and you'll probably relish your food even more.

The Purpose of Chewing

Since the dawn of time, chewing has been 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 breakthrough 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 your food:

  • 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 food slowly gives the stomach enough time to signal the brain for satiety. 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 your mouth's pH after eating acids and sugars.

How to Chew Food Properly

There's 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 make sure your food is completely pulverized before you swallow and begin digesting.

If you tend 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 of taking the time to focus on your food and your satiety level. Then, always brush after meals to clean away leftover food particles.

Chewing your food 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.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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