chewing food

If you suffer from poor digestion, bloating, stomach aches, constipation or diarrhea, it could be from many causes. To address this, it is a good ideal to examine your eating.   Perhaps what you are eating does not agree with you, or maybe how you are eating is a factor.

Our world is very fast-paced. We work through meals, eat in our cars, overeat, undereat, and/or skip meals, as we navigate our stressful, busy lives. This disordered eating takes a huge toll on many aspects of our lives, including causing digestive challenges.  It may surprise you to know that there is a very easy and effective strategy that is likely to dramatically improve your digestion right away.

The answer: chew your food more. So simple right?!  Yet so often people rush through their meals and aren’t consciously chewing their food until it’s ready to enter the other digestive phases.

What many people don’t realize is that the digestive process starts in the mouth. When we chew our food, the digestive enzyme amylase is released through our saliva and begins the process of breaking down starches. When the amylase doesn’t get even time to interact with the food, it skips the important first step of the digestive process!

This is when you run into common problems like acid reflux, bloating and general digestive discomfort. A good rule of thumb is to chew each bite of food at least 30 times. Now I’m not saying sit there and chew every bite of food that goes into your mouth for the rest of time. But it’s useful to get an idea of how long this really takes. For most people, this will likely double the amount of time you spend eating.

When you eat too quickly your body can’t catch up to let your brain know when you’re actually full. Slowing down helps you to only eat what your body needs and avoid the digestive discomfort that comes along with overeating.

In France, Spain and Italy it’s much more common to take your time eating. These cultures have lower incidence of modern diseases and digestive disorders than North America, as well as a lower incidence of obesity.

When you slow down and thoroughly chew every bite of food that enters your body it opens the space for more enjoyment and gratitude. These things might not seem important, but they’ll do more for your health than any green juice ever will.

Mindful eating where you chew eat bit thoroughly can also be very helpful for weight loss. There have even been studies that have shown this to be true. One such study was conducted in China using both lean and obese men. This involved mean who were fed traditional breakfasts, served the same amount initially but allowed to have more if they wished.

The researchers observed the obese men chewed less per bite. And even though their bites of food were the same size as those of their lean counterparts, the obese men ate more calories at the meal. Then, a follow up test was done where the same men returned for two more meals. During one of these additional meals, all participants were asked to chew each bite 15 times, while for another follow-up meal they asked them to chew 40 times with each bite.

What they found was for all of the men (lean and obese), approximate 12% fewer calories were consumed when they chewed each bite 40 times than when they chewed 15 times. Furthermore, those that chewed each bit 40 times had reduced ghrelin, the hormone in the stomach associated with hunger.

It didn’t matter whether the men were obese or lean: participants consumed about 12 percent fewer calories when they chewed their food 40 times with each bite. These results suggest that the amount of chewing done with a meal may be an important factor for weight loss or weight gain (and help your digestion as well).

So slow down, and start thoroughly enjoying every bite you eat, your belly (and  your body) will thank you.

To your health!

Coach AJ