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How to Chew Your Food

Woman chewing apple.

Did you know? When you chew, your mouth produces necessary saliva to aid in the breakdown of your food.

Digestion begins in our mouth, not our stomach.

The nutrients we need for optimal health and well-being begin with the choices we make at mealtime. However, what many overlook is that assimilating those foods requires proper digestion. Which starts in our mouth.

If you’re like many, you don’t chew your food properly. People who don’t chew their food well enough before they swallow often develop digestive problems, and are also at a greater risk for:

Choking – A mechanical obstruction of the airway that prevents normal breathing.
Aspiration – An accidental sucking in of food particles or fluids into the lungs.
Malnutrition – Getting too little or too much of certain nutrients.
Dehydration – Excessive loss of body water often due to diarrhea.
Weight gain – Eating too quickly tends to suppress a sense of fullness.

Reasons alone to become more mindful of how we chew our food.

How Long Should You Chew?

Your teeth, tongue and salivary glands begin the digestive process by grinding your food into smaller pieces, which are easier to digest.

Many suggest that you should chew each mouthful 32 times. That might not be enough for steak or nuts. And probably way too much for watermelon or other fruit. The purpose of chewing is to break down your food so it becomes liquefied and loses its texture.

As you chew, your salivary glands secrete various enzymes that are mixed with your food. Now that your food is fully crushed and in pulverised form, it’s ready for the second stage of digestion in your stomach.

Lose Weight By Better Chewing?

If this information feels a bit convicting and you want to make a change, it will take some time. Chewing is an ingrained habit that most of us don’t think about. Counting your chews might be helpful. Generally slowing down and taking more time to eat, taste and smell your food can help as well. It all starts with becoming more mindful of the importance of proper chewing.

And if that’s not enough motivation, consider the studies linking incomplete chewing with weight gain.

A recent study by the Institute of Food Technologists involved the consumption of almonds. When those involved in the research chewed almonds longer and into smaller particles, several striking outcomes were noticed:

  • Nutrients were more quickly absorbed by the body
  • Participants consumed almost 12% fewer calories
  • Chewing longer produced weight loss and greater energy

When Chewing Is Painful or Uncomfortable

Improve your digestion and nutritional intake by:

  1. Chewing your food slowly and steadily.
  2. Avoid drinking liquids before or after your meal.
  3. Sit down. Eating while standing often shortens chewing times.
  4. Enjoy the conversation with those you are sharing your meal with.
  5. Smell and completely taste your food.

Is chewing painful? Do you hear clicks or other noises as you chew your food? Are your teeth sensitive to hot or cold foods? Do you experience pain around your ears, face or jaw as you chew?

These are issues that we see in our practice all the time. If you’re experiencing these or similar symptoms, arrange an appointment today. These types of problems rarely resolve on their own and waiting often makes them more difficult to correct. Ring us today.

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