Chewing Food- How Many Times before you Swallow & Effects of Not Chewing

What is the right way of chewing food properly?  How long or how many times should you chew before swallow? Is warm or cold water recommended for proper chewing? How is mastication linked to weight loss or gain? What are the effects on not chewing enough?

Chewing food properly is an essential health eating habit. There are a couple of health benefits of chewing food thoroughly. Based on his recognition of the scientific evidence, Mahatma Gandhi  was once quoted saying, “Chew your drink and drink your food”.He already knew that chewing an essential facet of your diet. On the other hand if you ignore this simple task of chewing your food, there are effects of not chewing food properly that you probably won’t enjoy reading.

Survey results reveal that;

73% of the British public suffers from digestive complaints- and not chewing food properly is a major contributor.

The average person spends a mere 23 minutes every day chewing and eating their food

Chewing Food-Steps &What happens during Mastication

Chewing food is called mastication: a process by which food is crushed and ground by teeth and jaws. It is the first stage in the digestive process.

What happens during the 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.

What are the steps for Chewing food properly?

 Below is a step by step guide to ensure that you are chewing your food properly.

Set time for every meal, whoever came up with breakfast, lunch, and supper was really never wrong. The step towards ensure that your food is chewed properly set generous amount of time for each meal. At least by setting time, you will be assured of sufficient time for chewing food properly

If possible eat in a relaxed atmosphere. Try not to eat in places with stressful settings, heated discussions, or loud music if you can. You don’t want to eat hurriedly with little care.

Small is manageable Compared to large pieces of food, small pieces of food can be chewed properly and with ease. Large pieces of food won’t even fit on your spoon. Slice or cut your food into small, manageable pieces. Half-inch squares are about right for, fish, meat and other larger pieces of food.  Avoid putting too much food in your mouth at once, as this makes it more difficult to chew the food thoroughly. The smaller the bites, the better.

Chew your food thoroughly –You have already set time, found convenient environment, cut you’re your food into manageable pieces. What next?  It is time for your mouth to do what it does best. Ensure to chew each mouthful of food thoroughly.

How many times should you chew your Food before swallowing?

How long should you chew your food? The number of times , how long or thorough you should your chew your food depends on the type of food you consume. The number can vary with each person. Size, gender, age and other factors can all contribute to your saliva production and breakdown abilities.

Soft fruits and vegetables will break down more easily than chicken or steak; this is pretty easy to understand.  Simply chew your food as thoroughly as possible.  According to the experts at Ohio State University, you should chew softer foods 5-10 times, and harder foods up to 30 times before swallowing. [Source:]. Others claim that it ca be 32-40 times. In addition to factors mentioned above, personal preference can also be considered.

How do you know if you have chewed enough?

Well, chewing food properly may sound such an obvious task it is but that is not the case. So, how can you tell that you have chewed thorough enough?

One suggestion is that you chew your food completely until it is small enough and dissolved enough to be swallowed with ease.

A good rule of thumb is as follows: if you can tell what kind of food you are eating from the texture of the food in your mouth (not the taste), then you haven’t chewed it enough. For example, if you are chewing broccoli and you run your tongue over the stalk and can tell that it is still a stalk or if you run your tongue over the floret and you can still tell that it is still a floret, don’t swallow. Keep on chewing…! You need to keep on chewing until a point you can’t tell. []

Warm/Cold  Water and chewing Food properly?

Cold water not recommended

Well, many studies have been published, not long ago, backing up the idea that drinking cold water makes you burn calories. Does drinking cold water burn calories? Yes, but to some extent but what happens is that your body does this by using energy to heat up the cold water to body temperature.– well this bit of wisdom is a double edged sword.

While drinking cold water does speed up your metabolism (about 4 extra calories per 8 ounces of water), it does so by using energy to heat up the cold water to body temperature. This reroutes all energy that is meant to be used for the digestion process.  When you are chewing food, as we have already seen, you want all your energy pointed at smashing down food so your body can easily assimilate the nutrients and eliminate waste.

Toxins which accumulate in your digestive organs as result of poor digestion can actually lead to weight gain. The accumulated toxins can inhibit the ability to breakdown fat, cause unsatsifiable cravings and interfere with your body’s ability to determine if you are full or not.

Secondly, drinking water or any other liquid during your meal may water down or dilute your naturally occurring digestive enzymes and stomach acids which makes it less easy to breakdown food thus slowing down digestion. Stomach acids are dissipated with the act of drinking fluids with solids since water is excreted faster than solids.   Chewing food properly or thoroughly creates enough saliva that should naturally allow you eat and swallow comfortably without lots of liquids.

Thirdly,  it has been argued there  is some little “science”  behind not drinking cold water during meals. It is claimed that cold liquids solidify fats in your stomach, which can cause digestive problems.

However, experts recommend that you drink your water or any other beverage 20-30 minutes before or after your meal to avoid dehydration the rest of the day.

Warm water

Warm water or beverage of temperature closer to your body’s normal heat can ease digestion as opposed to disrupting it. If you have been to China or watched a Chinese movie, you must have noticed that meals come with tiny cups of hot water, or tea. May be they already know how important that is in terms of digestion.

 Tips for chewing food properly

  • Always drink sufficient water to enhance saliva production as this aids in the digestion process.
  • Chew semi-liquid foods, for instance yogurt, just as you would solids. Despite the fact this sort of foods might require slightly fewer chews, it is important to get the enzymes in your saliva working. This only happens through chewing.
  • Do not eat while driving, operating machinery, watching television, or otherwise occupying your brain in a way that can distract you from eating. When your brain is distracted, it is harder to control how you chew.
  • Be sure to chew thoroughly as this will help your body get more out of the food you eat.
  • Try not to consume a lot of alcohol just prior to eating. It both impairs your judgment and dries out your mouth, increasing your chances of choking.
  • Do not swallow large chunks of food. This increases of choking as well as making it harder for your body to go to work on the food in the stomach and intestines. Enzymes are more effective on smaller, ground-up pieces
  • Concentrate on the meal when eating:  Try not to eat while working, watching TV, driving or when you are otherwise on the go. You need to be calm and focused while eating your meal.  This also makes for a more enjoyable meal.

Health Benefits-Why  chew food Properly or thoroughly ?

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.

More Health benefits

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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/Gain

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]

Does not chewing food make you fat or gain weight?

Not chewing thoroughly means taking more calories which will result to weight gain.When you start eating, it takes about 20 minutes before your brain starts receiving signals that your stomach is full. So if you chew your food thoroughly or  simply longer you won’t be able to eat as much before your brain realizes that your stomach is filling up.

Water matters here is how mush you eat in the first 20 minutes Not the actual amount of chewing you do. You could also extent the chewing time is to set your fork down in between bites. This can help avoid overeating.

According to More chewing results to fewer calories. A  research study found that individuals who chewed their food more ended up taking in fewer calories. Researchers found that the obese participants consumed their food more quickly and chewed the food less.

Not Chewing Food Side Effects

What will make you not chew enough? Are there bad effects associated with improper mastication?

 Why would you not chew food properly?

You may not chew your food probably because it is a habit you have grown up with. When you were a kid, your momma used to tell you to finish up what was in your plate quickly so as to catch the school bus, classes, church etc. Other reasons as to why or circumstances under which you may not chew properly include;

  • When you are in hurry.
  • When you are watching participating in other activities while eating. Such activities include Watching TV, driving, operating machinery etc.
  • Speed eating or competitive eating, a sport in which participants compete against each other to eat large quantities of food in a short duration of time.

Effects of not chewing food enough

Effects of not chewing food enough

What happens when you choose not to chew your food properly? Could there be any effects?  Continue reading to find out.

1. Not chewing food properly prevents you from enjoying your meals. Everyone is entitled to enjoyment. Enjoyment is fun, it is pleasure and it is satisfaction. I bet you would not wish to miss it out all these. Put in other words, rushing through your meal with hardly any chewing, will not provide you an opportunity to taste or enjoy the meal. When you set time for your meals, concentrate, and chew properly, it forces you to slow down, savor each morsel and really enjoy all the flavors your meal has to offer.

2. Another disadvantage or improper chewing of food is that it can lead to a condition known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). GERD is a condition in which the stomach contents (food or liquid) leak backwards from the stomach into the tube from the mouth to the stomach (esophagus). This action can irritate the esophagus, causing heartburn and other symptoms. The condition can also damage the lining of the throat and esophagus. According to studies, about 44% of Americans experience reflux or heartburn at least once a month, 20% have it every week and 7% suffer from it daily.

3. Not chewing food enough can result to insufficient nutrients for your body. Improper chewing means no breakdown of large food particles into smaller particles that are easier to digest. In addition makes it harder for your intestines to absorb vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from the food particles as they pass through. Improperly digested food, which can cause a variety of adverse effects to your health, may also enter into your blood. So, never under estimate the importance of chewing.

Recent research presented at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo in Chicago showed, in fact, that when participants chewed almonds longer, the smaller particles were better and more quickly absorbed by the body.

In those who chewed less, the larger particles were passed through the body, while also providing opportunistic bacteria and fungi with a source of fuel during their transit. Purdue University professor Dr. Richard Mattes explained:

“Particle size [affects the] bioaccessibility of the energy of the food that is being consumed. The more you chew, the less is lost and more is retained in the body.”


4. It can lead to increased risk of bacterial overgrowth: Improper chewing creates room for large food particles which cannot be 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 colon, which may cause a variety of symptoms including, gas and bloating, diarrhea or constipation, abdominal pain and cramping etc.

5. Yet another reason, not chewing food enough leads overeating. It can be hard to maintain a healthy weight if you are hardly taking your time to chew food thoroughly.

6. It increases the risk of food poisoning.  Without mastication, food won’t have enough exposure saliva. Why is exposure to saliva important? 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

7. This practice can encourage poor oral health. By not chewing your food thoroughly, the bones holding your teeth will miss workout and hence become weak and unhealthy.  In addition there will be increase plaque buildup tooth decay since you not chewing properly won’t produce enough saliva that can clear food particles and bacteria out of the mouth.

8.Finally,  not chewing food enough can result to incomplete digestion. When you do not chew properly, probably you are not signaling the chemicals in the mouth, or stomach to go and finish the digestion properly without some distress. This lead to development of ulcers, gas and bloating, diarrhea or constipation, abdominal pain and cramping can develop.

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