Food & Nutrition

Chewing Food: Importance, Health Benefits & Weight Loss.

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What is masticating? Why is it important to chew food? What are the benefits or advantages of chewing your food? Does chewing food help lose weight? Continue reading to find answers.

What is masticating?

Masticating is the process of chewing.  Chewing is the process by which food is crushed and ground by teeth and jaws. It is the first stage in your digestive process.

What happens during the mastication or chewing process?

chewing food process

With the help of your cheek and tongue, food is positioned between the teeth for grinding. While chewing goes on, the food is made softer and warmer, and the enzymes in saliva begin to break down carbohydrates in the food. The by-product of chewing is called bolus. A bolus is what you actually swallow. It enters the esophagus and via peristalsis continues on to the stomach, where the next step of digestion occurs. Well, you already know what chewing or mastication is and what happens during the process. Let us go on.

Why is it important to chew food?

Chewing is an important, yet often times overlooked part of healthy digestion. Although there a several reasons to chew food, majority of individuals put food in their mouth, chew a few times or even hardly chew and swallow! This guarantees no benefits in terms of your overall health and enjoyment of food. The manner, in which you chew your food, not omitting how long you chew, can have plenty of impacts on your health.

Following are answers to ‘why is it important to chew food?’  In other words these are the reasons as to why you chew your food.

Chewing food facilitates mechanical and chemical breakdown of food

It is important to chew food so that you break it down.Chewing your food mechanically breaks down very large amounts of food molecules into smaller particles. As a result of mechanical breakdown and continued chewing, food is made warmer and softer. This increases the surface area of foods to allow more efficient break down by enzymes your saliva and stomach.

Chewing food ensures prolonged food exposure to saliva.

It is important to chew food so as to mix it with saliva. Saliva not only helps to lubricate the food, allowing for less stress on your esophagus, but also contains enzymes that contribute to the chemical process of digestion. The longer you chew, the more time these enzymes have to start breaking down your food, making digestion easier on your stomach and small intestine.

Chewing  food relaxes the lower stomach muscle

Chewing your food is directly connected with the movement of food through your digestive tract, and, in particular, with the movement of food from your stomach to your small intestine. At the lower end of your stomach, there is a muscle called the pylorus. This muscle must relax in order for food to leave your stomach and pass into your small intestine. Sufficient saliva from optimal masticating helps relax the pylorus, and, in this way, helps your food move through your digestive tract in healthy fashion.

Chewing food triggers the rest of the digestive process

Mastication activates signaling messages to the rest of the gastrointestinal system which is then triggered to begin the entire digestive process. This is because when chewing is well-paced and done thoroughly, it can actually be said to belong to the “cephalic stage of digestion,” the phase in which you first see, smell, and taste your food. The length of time spent chewing the food is related to the length of the cephalic stage of digestion since with more extensive chewing, the longer the food gets to be seen, tasted, and smelled. Research on cephalic phase response show that release of small messaging molecules that are critical for digestion increase by over 50% by the mere sight and smell of food. Additionally, studies have found how chewing, as well as the activation of taste receptors in the mouth, can prompt the nervous system to relay information to the gastrointestinal system to optimize the process of digestion. For example, stimulation of the taste receptors can signal the stomach lining to produce hydrochloric acid that helps in the breakdown of protein. Additionally, chewing signals the pancreas to prepare to secrete enzymes and bicarbonate into the lumen of the small intestines.

Chewing food aids nutrient absorption.

It is important to chew food so as to ensure that food is fully digested since not all foods that get into your mouth are digested in your stomach. Chewing your food properly will allow breakdown of all the food thus ensuring that all the nutrients from that food are available for your body.

Health benefits of chewing food properly or thoroughly or enough

You already now know why it is important to chew your food. What are the health benefits of chewing your food thoroughly? Keep on reading to find out.

Health benefit of chewing food properly #1

Chewing completes the digestion process of some foods. Not chewing food is like skipping a stage in the process of digestion. Carbohydrate digestion begins with enzymes in your saliva breaking down some of the chemical bonds that connect the simple sugars that comprise starches. At the same time, the first stage of fat digestion begins in your mouth with the secretion of enzymes by glands located under the tongue. Saliva contains digestive enzymes, so the longer you chew, the more time these enzymes have to start breaking down your food, making digestion easier on your stomach and small intestine.

Health benefit of chewing food properly #2

Chewing food enough decreases excess bacteria in the intestines. By chewing each bit of your food thoroughly, the food is broken down to the smallest possible particles. This means little or no air will be contained in the bolus thus decreasing gas and burping. Not chewing food properly creates room for large food particles which are not easily and fully digested by your stomach. Therefore some food will be left partially unprocessed. This undigested food causes an increase in bacteria in the intestines, which may cause a variety of symptoms including, gas and bloating, diarrhea or constipation, abdominal pain and cramping etc.

Health benefit of chewing food properly #3

health-benefits-chewing-food-properly

Chewing is important for your health

Chewing food preserves energy. The digestion process requires a lot of energy which is generated by your body. Not chewing food thoroughly makes other parts of the digestion system to have to use more energy and work harder to break down the food. Smaller particles of food broken down by proper chewing allow the food to move through the entire digestive track easier. First the stomach can work more efficiently and quicker to break down food. From there food travels to the small intestines more efficiently. In an article on Food Product Design, Richard Mattes, professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, reveals that particle size of food affects the bioaccessibility of the food’s energy. “The more you chew, the less is lost and more is retained in the body,” he explains. Not only does the study shed light on chewing habits, but its results may change how we consume food.

Health benefit of chewing food properly #4

Chewing food enough allows you to taste and enjoy food to the maximum. When you focus on your food, you experience the meal more intensely, especially the pleasure of it. This creates a sense of satisfaction while making you love and appreciate your food more.

Health benefit of chewing food properly #5

Chewing food decreases the risk of food poisoning. The saliva contains an enzyme (lysozyme) which is useful at destroying food-borne pathogens that can cause serious illness and even death. The more you masticate, the more you expose food to the anti-bacterial enzyme

Health benefit of chewing food properly #6

Chewing lubricates your food so it’s easier on your esophagus. The lubrication is facilitated by the saliva in your mouth.

Health benefit of chewing food properly #7

Chewing food enough will facilitate maximum absorption of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Properly chewed food makes it is easier for the intestines to absorb nutrients. Some foods’ digestion process must start in the mouth. As mentioned it is important to chew so as trigger the rest of the digestive process.

Health benefit of chewing food properly #8

Mastication also helps to maintain good oral health. Chewing food is a nice workout for bones holding the teeth and helps keep them strong and healthy. In addition to clearing food particles out of the mouth, the saliva produced while chewing properly also helps in cleaning away bacteria in the mouth. Fewer bacteria in the mouth ensures that there is reduced plaque buildup and tooth decay.

Health benefit of chewing food properly #9

Chewing food relaxes body and mind. How? When you are chewing your food consciously it takes your mind off of your problems, stress or tough situations that you may be facing or already faced. Instead of worrying about what you need to do, chewing will let you concentrate on the texture and the taste of the food. Eventually you will enjoy your meal.

Health benefit of chewing food properly #10

Helps avoid over-eating. Taking your time to chew food thoroughly ensures that you will eat not more than enough. This will help to maintain a healthy weight.

Chewing food weight loss

Does chewing food thoroughly aid in weight loss? How does masticating aid in calorie burning?

chewing food weight loss

Studies indicate that chewing aids in weight loss

Chewing can aid in losing or maintaining weight. The longer you chew your food, the longer it will take to finish a meal. You will tend to eat less when you eat slower. When you eat, a message is sent to the brain to indicate that you are getting full. If you masticate hurriedly and swallow, you may be done with your food, but your brain will still think you are hungry. When this occurs, you will probably need to eat and consume more calories, which can lead to weight gain or interfere with weight loss. The more you chew, the fuller you’ll feel and the less likely you are to overeat. You’ll allow the stomach time to signal the brain that it’s full and stop eating.

It takes time (generally about 20 minutes) for your brain to signal to your stomach that you’re full, and this may explain why one study found people reported feeling fuller when they ate slowly. They also ended up consuming about 10 percent fewer calories when they ate at a slow pace, and presumably chewed slower, as opposed to when they were rushing. [Mercola]

In simple terms, chew slower, longer and stay healthy and live longer.

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