Your parents may have told you when you were children to chew every bite well and to not rush your meals. Chewing has more of an impact than you may think. It effects the way the body digests and uses food.
Horace fletcher, an American health food expert, was famous for his chewing. He advocated chewing his food at least 100 times per minute to be exact. Fletcher postulated that by excessively chewing, the food would mix properly with saliva. He claimed that by chewing thoroughly he could draw more strength from lesser amounts of food. At the ripe age of 58, fletcher decided to test his theory. He went up against athletes from Yale university in tests of Strength and Endurance. He outperformed them in every test, arousing curiosity and earning their respect.
Interesting how something that seems as insignificant as chewing your food can supposedly have such effects. To clarify, lets take a closer look at the known benefits of proper chewing.
Increasing the number of chews per bite affects hormone release in the gut that regulates appetite (3). One of these hormones, Ghrelin is found in high concentrations in the blood when fasting and suppressed after eating. Low amounts of Ghrelin signals for the decrease in hunger.
Chewing your food well takes time, but this gives the body a chance to activate hormones involved in turning off appetite. Less food is consumed as a result (2), decreasing the amount of calories taken on board. Having smaller portions as a result of feeling fuller sooner gives an advantage to those trying to control their weight by consuming less calories.
Chewing more from each bite of food affects the rate of thermogenesis (1). This refers to the heat produced during digestion. An increased rate of thermogenesis increases daily Energy Expenditure (calories burned) assisting in weight loss.
Chewing food into a liquified state facilitates digestion as the body does not have to work to breakdown large particles to absorb them. Smaller particles allow for a quicker and more efficient digestion.
Increased Bioaccessability of nutrients
Chewing food into smaller pieces will increase its surface area increasing the bioaccessability of nutrients (3). It becomes easier for the intestines to absorb nutrients to which it can assimilate into energy.
Longer exposure to salivary enzymes
Saliva contains the enzymes amylase and lipase. These enzymes begin the breakdown of starches and fats in the mouth, making digestion easier for the stomach and intestines.
Enjoying meals more
Eating slowly gives time to appreciate the taste of what is being eaten and savour every bite.
- Hamada Y, Kashima H, Hayashi N. The number of chews and meal duration affect diet-induced thermogenesis and splanchnic circulation. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2014 May;22(5):E62-9. doi: 10.1002/oby.20715.
- Smit HJ, Kemsley EK, Tapp HS, Henry CJ. Does prolonged chewing reduce food intake? Fletcherism revisited. Appetite. 2011 Aug;57(1):295-8.
- Miquel-Kergoat S, Azais-Braesco V, Burton-Freeman B, Hetherington M. Effects of chewing on appetite, food intake and gut hormones: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Physiology & Behavior 151 (2015) 88–96.