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Benefits of Chewing and Eating Your Food Slowly

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Mazlan has a passion for health and fitness. He enjoys yoga, cycling, home workouts, and healthy food.

Benefits of Chewing  and Eating Slowly

Benefits of Chewing and Eating Slowly

Chewing Your Food

Do you know that eating slowly and chewing your food thoroughly will produce sufficient saliva? And the saliva's function is to wash away food and bacteria that remain in the mouth? Saliva will also suppress carcinogens in food, thus preventing cancers. According to WebMD, saliva is important as it keeps your mouth moist for easier chewing, tasting, and swallowing.

I realized all these after trying to manage my gastric, flatulence and constipation problems. I have had gastric and flatulence since my student days, and I thought the constipation was due to the lack of fibers.

After starting the regime of eating the right food the right way (e.g. eat fruits before the main meal etc.) I was able to manage all these issues. Part of this regime was to eat slowly and to chew all the food thoroughly. I even went to the extent of chewing food 40 times.

I am sharing here why it is important to eat slowly and if you eat quickly, it can be detrimental to your health.

Benefits of Chewing and Eating Slowly

Chewing and eating slowly have many health benefits. If you are still not convinced of this routine, the following reasons will change your mind and make you eat slowly:

  1. Produce more saliva.
  2. Lose weight
  3. Boost digestion
  4. Better brain development
  5. Prevent eye strain
  6. Improved speech development
  7. Reduce wind or flatulence
  8. Suppress carcinogens in food
  9. Less stress
  10. Reduce the risk of insulin resistance
  11. Minimize metabolic disorder
  12. Lessen heartburn

1. Produce More Saliva

When you eat slowly and chew thoroughly, you produce more saliva. Saliva will:

  • Stimulate your taste buds so you can experience a delicious meal.
  • Wash away food and bacteria that remain in the mouth, teeth and gums.
  • Produce disease-fighting substances to prevent cavities and other infections.
  • Suppress carcinogens in food, thus preventing cancers.
  • The antibacterial effect prevents bacteria from entering the mouth.
  • Swallowing food will be easier.

2. Eat Slowly to Lose Weight

Based on this study by the Kyushu University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, eating slowly can help with weight loss.

If you want to eat less to lose weight, the trick is to have the feeling of a full stomach. The brain must receive and give signals that you had a full and satisfying meal.

The hormone, leptin, is the link that gives this signal to the brain. It enhances the feeling of fullness.

This will not function if you eat fast as the intricate system will not have enough time to work.

So, chew your food slowly and give yourself enough time to enjoy the pleasure of eating. Meanwhile, the hormone leptin will have adequate time to get into action.

3. Boost Digestion

Eating slowly gives your saliva's enzyme sufficient time to break down the food to give it better digestion.

If your digestive system is weak, you will not absorb the nutrients in your food, irrespective of high-quality organic food or junk food.

Eat Slow

Unlike what most people perceive, digestion starts in the mouth and not in the stomach. You need more time to chew food in the mouth so that less time is taken to digest food in the stomach. When you eat slowly, you boost your digestion and have fewer digestive issues.

4. Better Brain Development

As reported in the study by T Momose et al. of the Department of Radiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tokyo, chewing activates cerebral blood flow to widespread regions of the brain. The increased amount of cerebral blood flow will stimulate the brain. This can develop children's intelligence and prevent memory loss in adults.

In this study, the subjects were asked to chew chewing gums and it showed an increased blood flow to many regions of the brain.

So, chewing your favorite chewing gum is not a bad habit after all.

5. Prevent Eye Strain

This study by Ken Asakawa et al. of the Department of Orthoptics and Visual Science, Kitasato University, Japan reported that chewing can prevent eye strain and improve the ability of the eye to focus, especially in young adults.

For this study, chewing gum was also used. The results showed a significantly longer time before the subject felt eye tiredness, blurred vision, eye heaviness, double vision, and eye dryness, compared to the subjects that took tablet candy.

So guys, don't forget your chewing gum when you want to study or read.

6. Improved Speech Development

The muscles around the mouth help in the development of the jaw so you can pronounce words better and your face can be more expressive.

Eating slowly and chewing thoroughly are some of the exercises that help develop these muscles. It also gives the tongue a good workout. This is crucial when you have difficulty pronouncing words with certain letters and making different speech sounds.

The report by Meg Simione et al. from the Department of Pediatrics, Mass General Hospital for Children, United States also highlights the importance of chewing as an essential motor skill throughout early childhood.

7. Reduce Wind or Flatulence

Wind or flatulence is one of the side effects of a poor digestive system. It arises from trapped wind caused by, amongst other things, eating too fast.

This is why NHS Inform recommends that you make changes to your diet, lifestyle and to eat and drink slowly.

8. Suppress Carcinogens in Food

An enzyme called peroxidase in saliva can suppress carcinogens in food and mutagenic compounds. The salivary glands will secrete peroxidase enzyme and thiocyanate ion and will temporarily inhibit the growth, respiration, and metabolism of most species of oral bacteria. This is reported in the study "Relationship of the human salivary peroxidase system to oral health" published in PubMed.NCBI.

A carcinogen is a dangerous substance as it can cause cancer in living tissues. It can be found in certain drinks, foods, products you use, and etc. So, it is important to eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly for the body to excrete more saliva and reduce the chances of getting cancer.

9. Less Stress

When you eat slowly, you concentrate on your eating and your mind is focused on that action only. You pay attention to your eating. You are in a state that is less stressful unlike when you gulp your meals and thinking of what to do next.

10. Reduce the Risk of Insulin Resistance

Based on the studies by Japanese researchers at Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, Japan, eating fast leads to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is when cells in your body don't respond well to insulin i.e cannot easily take up glucose from your blood.

When this happens, your probability of developing type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol as well as heart disease is higher.

Hence, it is important to reduce your risk of insulin resistance by eating slowly and chewing food thoroughly.

11. Minimize Metabolic Disorder

The study by J G Kral et al. of the Department of Surgery, SUNY HSC, New York reported an increased level of serum lipids and more liver fat in people who eat fast.

Hence, eating fast results in the accumulation of fat in the liver causing liver injury, hypertension as well as a metabolic disorder.

When you have a metabolic disorder, chances of getting diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, liver cancer, etc. are higher.

Eating fast was a common problem during our Uni days. We were always in a hurry and when we had lunch or dinner it would be in the company of fast eaters. We gulped our food not realizing that it would lead to problems later. These friends (I like to call them a group of fast eaters) end up with gastric, diabetes, high blood or cancer problems.

It is therefore important that you eat and chew slowly.

12. Lessen Heartburn

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition where food in the stomach will flow back into the esophagus i.e. the digestive tube from your mouth to the stomach, causing irritation and heartburn.

In the study on the 'Influence of rapid food intake on postprandial reflux' by Stephan M Wildi et al. of the Digestive Disease Center, Medical University of South Carolina reported that rapid food intake produces more gastroesophageal reflux (GER) in healthy volunteers. 'When you eat fast, you overstress the gastric pressure-volume response, and this increases the postprandial GER' writes Stephan M Wildi.

If you suffer from frequent heartburn, you will feel a burning sensation in the chest. This gets worse if you lie down. You can also get a wheezing cough and sleeping problem, which makes you moody and ill-tempered.

To get rid of these problems, eat slowly.

Eat Slowly is Part of Religious Practice

Eating slowly is not a modern healthy lifestyle. It has been recommended since ancient times and even recorded in many religious teachings.

It is recommended in Judaism, as appeared in Jewish Idea Daily and in Islam as written in The Quran Recital, where eating should be done slowly and to stop eating when full.

In Buddhism, as disclosed in The New York Times, eating slowly is like doing meditation with food. In Indian Ayurveda, eating slowly is associated with the secret to good health as reported in The Health Mantra.

Therefore, eating slowly has been an ancient habit and what you eat is just as important as how you eat.

How to Eat Slowly

Winston Churchill once said that "Eating words has never given me indigestion" but if you eat fast, it certainly will give you indigestion and bad health.

It is not easy to change this habit and will certainly take time. The following suggestions will help you adapt and change to this new habit of eating properly and slowly.

If you find it hard, remember that if you gulp your chow down too fast, you tend to gobble up more.

Here are 5 tips to help you eat slowly:

1. Do Not Eat When You Are Hungry

Having a mild to moderate hunger is a normal signal telling you that your body's metabolic action is working well in burning off your previous meal. When you prolong this and the intense hunger comes into action, you not only find it hard to concentrate but will be irritable and find it hard to eat slowly.

Therefore, do not wait until you are very hungry to have your meals. If you feel hungry in between meals, drink plenty of mineral water and have fruits or nuts. This will help tide you over until it is mealtime.

2. Do Not Eat Standing Up

Problems with some of the fast-food joints or busy places like the airport are the lack of sitting areas. You end up standing or even walking while having your meal. You will be wondering why it matters whether you eat standing or walking and not sitting down.

Just like eating when you are intensely hungry, eating while standing or walking will make you eat more. You will also eat quickly and in the end, you will feel hungry again two hours later.

Find a place to sit. Sitting at a table for your meal will psyche your brain that you are having a meal. You will most likely eat slower and you tend to eat only when you are hungry.

3. Eat in Small Portion

When you eat in small portions and on small plates, you take your time to enjoy the meal. If this is difficult to help you through the day, then take frequent small portion meals.

This helps to maintain a constant blood sugar level, hence giving you more energy throughout the day. This is important if you are diabetic.

Eating a small portion frequently will also keep your metabolism working. This is your body function that works to digest food. Just remember to take them in smaller bites and chew thoroughly.

4. Do Not Multitask

I have to admit I am a frequent offender of trying to do so many things at any one time. While having my breakfast I might be reading the latest WhatsApp postings or putting the laptop and other stuff into the briefcase.

At night, I might be having dinner while watching television or reading and answering my emails.

Multitasking is good to a certain extent but if you include having your meal into that regime, it can be harmful. You tend to eat more and faster. So resist this urge and give yourself a break to enjoy your meal.

5. Talking When Having Meals

It certainly is bad to talk with your mouth full and in certain quarters, it is bad etiquette to talk too much while eating food.

However, talking while you are having meals will help slow you down. Just make sure not to talk with your mouth full.

Indian Ayurveda on Eating Slow

Ayurveda's way for better digestion includes sitting down when eating and not while walking, standing, or driving.

Another Ayurveda way to improve the digestive system is to stimulate the 'digestive fire', Agni. This is by eating a concoction of fresh ginger, lemon juice, and salt just before lunch or dinner. This will activate the digestive enzymes.

Avoid Cold Drinks During Meals - Instead, Drink Beverage at Room Temperature.

Ayurveda compares the digestive Agni with burning fire. A big fire will burn the food and a small fire will take a longer time to cook. Putting cold water will extinguish the fire. So balancing the flame is important.

In Ayurveda practices, drinking cold drinks or with ice is a big no-no as this will douse the digestive fire.

Benefits of Chewing and Eating Slowly Infographic

Benefits of Chewing and Eating Slowly Infographic

Final Thoughts on the Benefits of Chewing Food Slowly

Now that you know the benefits of eating slowly and chewing your food thoroughly, you need to practice often and stop the bad habit of gulping your food.

Put a reminder on your mobile phone just before mealtime on the good eating habits. Put it down in your diary, on your fridge door and get your partner and family members to be part of this new eating lifestyle.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2012 Mazlan A

Comments

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on August 31, 2012:

@teaches12345: Yes, you are right about the signal taking at least 20mins. and the amount of food that you can consume within that time. Thanks for sharing.

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on August 31, 2012:

@Glimmer Twin Fan, @Om: Thanks for sharing and I hope you will both benefits from this info.

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on August 31, 2012:

@Craig Hartranft : Thanks you for sharing your experiences on GERD and suggestions on how I should reword part of the article. I certainly will do that.

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on August 31, 2012:

@Emma: Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on August 31, 2012:

@Pamela: Thanks for sharing and I shall add you comment to my article.

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on August 31, 2012:

@Just Ask Susan: Thanks for sharing your experience. In fact, my daughter is also a slow eater since baby and she is thinner than the rest of the other family members. She also tends to eat smaller portion and the brothers and sister used to make fun of her of being slow and not finishing her meal. Now I too, know the benefits.

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on August 31, 2012:

@DzyMsLizzy, thank you for sharing your experience and circumstances that got you into this 'eat fast syndrome'. I agree with you that if you chew 'too much' and if you are not used to it, the taste and texture can put you off. Thanks for the comment, votes and Share.

Dianna Mendez on August 30, 2012:

Agree with you that eating slowly has many health benefits. It takes at least twenty minutes for your brain to tell your stomach that it is full. Think of how much you can eat in that amount of time! Great share on this voted way up!

Om Paramapoonya on August 30, 2012:

Very interesting info. Never knew that eating too fast could lead to insulin resistance. My husband should read this. He's such a fast eater. Sometimes I wonder if he even chews his food at all. lol

Claudia Mitchell on August 29, 2012:

I am guilty of eating way too fast and I pay for it. These are good tips for those of us who do it. Thanks for an interesting hub!

Craig Hartranft from Southeastern Pennsylvania on August 29, 2012:

As a former GERD sufferer, you need to amend your comments about acid reflux disease. Saying that 'chances are, you will develop' ARD is more speculation than anything else. You can't know this. Rather it would be better to say that eating slow is a preventive measure, without suggesting consequences are inevitable. This comes across as prescription by fear of outcomes.

You also need to add clarity to 'Do Not Eat When You are Hungry.' Most Americans can't distinguish between hunger and appetite. In America, few people have truly been 'hungry' (like a Sudanese refugee), but they have had an appetite for more than what's necessary. It would be better to say that if you have an extreme appetite for lack of prolonged food consumption to eat smaller portions in confined period of time.

Emma Kisby from Berkshire, UK on August 29, 2012:

I like this hub, as it's a good reminder of how important it is to eat slowly and not overeat very quickly. You've made some really interesting points - some I would never have thought of. I can be guilty of multi-tasking when I eat for sure! I also must stop letting myself get really hungry and grabbing something quickly without thinking.

Voting up and interesting.

Pamela Dapples from Arizona now on August 29, 2012:

I really like the way you laid this out so pragmatically so that we can see the really important reason and then absorb the other reasons. I shan't bother sharing this with a particular loved one of mine because he or she won't change. Another outcome of eating too fast can be diverticulitis -- which is very painful, can kill and which is also brought on by choosing foods the intestines can no longer cope with.

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on August 29, 2012:

I will have to share your hub with my husband. I've been trying to get him to slow down when he eats forever now. I on the other hand eat like a turtle. After reading your hub I see that it's a good thing.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on August 29, 2012:

Yes--a very bad, and very hard habit to break. I began eating fast 43 years ago, when my first child was born. It seemed, no matter HOW well attended and fed the baby was, the minute I sat down do eat, she'd start to cry soon after. There's nothing I detest more than hot food that's gotten cold (this was the days before microwave ovens for quick re-heating). So, I quickly learned that if I wanted to eat my meals without interruption, I'd better sit down, and shovel it in as fast as I could chew the food just enough to swallow.

Then, there was a second child, and dealing with toddlers, and raising them to adulthood--none of which was conducive to slow, relaxed meals. So, I still eat pretty fast, although I've tried to slow down some. As fast as I ate, however, I knew a couple who ate even faster. If we all went out to eat together, I was the one 'bringing up the rear,' so to speak.

The problem with chewing the food as much as we're supposed to, for me, is the texture it develops. I can't stand the feel of mushy half-digested stuff in my mouth--it gags me. Put slightly less delicately, it feels like something I already ate that's come back up, and is certainly not helpful in enjoying one's meal. So, even if I slow down, I still chew things barely enough to swallow without choking.

Interesting article, with valid points--even if I personally don't seem able to follow the advice. Voted up, interesting, useful and shared.

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on August 29, 2012:

@billybuc : Hahaha, that sounds like me too until recently. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 29, 2012:

Boy oh boy, am I ever bad at this. I eat like someone is going to steal my food before I finish it. LOL Thanks for the reminder!

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on August 29, 2012:

@yougotme: It is hard to put into practice and you can start with just one of the above suggestions initially and move on from there. I hope you will persevere. Thanks for the visit and I greatly appreciate your encouraging comment.

@sujithbeta : Thank you for stopping and commenting. Have a great day.

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on August 29, 2012:

@Robert: I was taught about eating slowly at young age but never practise it until recently. It certainly has many benefits that do not cost us anything at all, maybe time. However, it is worth the time spent. Thanks for the visit

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on August 29, 2012:

@dinkan53: I am glad you agree with me that eating is a pleasure that should be given enough time for us to enjoy. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for the Shared.

Sreejith k from Kerala, India on August 29, 2012:

Thanks for the valuable information.

Nice hub

Renz Kristofer Cheng from Manila on August 29, 2012:

Another one of those great hubs that contain a lot of valuable and useful information!

I have been aware of the importance of eating slowly, but I find it hard to put it into practice. Thanks to this hub, I'm reminded once more. :)

Robert Erich from California on August 29, 2012:

I never realized how important it was to eat slowly for our overall health! Great article. I appreciate you sharing it.

dinkan53 from India on August 29, 2012:

'Slow and Steady Wins the Race'. Eating is a pleasure, take enough time and enjoy your food. So next time while you eat think about it!. Well written and thanks for sharing. SHARED!

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