How many times have you heard this from your parents, grandparents, or in my case my wife: Chew your food! How many times have you said this to your young kids?
Back when you first heard it or said it, you were probably thinking its benefits were more preventative so you wouldn’t choke on your food, or to have good manners… Well, that’s always a good reason to thoroughly chew. But did you know there are more to reasons to chew based on your hormones? Here are some benefits below..
- Chewing starts the digestive process and increases the surface area of the food so that stomach acids and digestive enzymes can better access it.
- It enables you to absorb more nutrients because the food is better digested
- It helps lower the risk of autoimmune disorders – poorly digested proteins (i.e., long polypeptides) are more likely to ‘react’ with the immune system and more likely to resemble a protein present in the body. If the immune system decides it doesn’t like the looks of the food you just ate, it’s now on alert to attack and destroy anything similar, even if it’s part of your thyroid, joints, nervous system, etc.
And if you’re trying to lose weight, here is one that you’ll be very interested in.
A study published in the Am J Clin Nutr (2011; 94:709-16) with obese and lean Chinese men found that the obese men ingested more food and chewed less than the lean men, although their bite sizes were similar.
However, they then had both groups of men eat a 2,200 calorie meal on two different occasions. At one sitting, they had the men chew each bite (10g of food/bite) 15 times and for the second meal, the men were instructed to chew each bite 40 times.
At thirty minute intervals following the meals, the levels of three gut hormones were measured from plasma samples:
- Ghrelin, aka, “the hunger hormone,” is a neuropeptide that works on the hypothalamus to increase hunger and prepare the stomach for food when it is empty and it’s secretion stops when the stomach is full.
- Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) stimulates a decrease in blood glucose and slows rate of absorption of nutrients into blood by reducing gastric emptying.
- Cholecystokinin (CCK) is released after a meal into circulation from small intestine and reduces food intake
The results showed that the levels of Ghrelin were lower after 40 compared to 15 chews and the levels of GLP-1 and CCK were both higher after 40 versus 15 chews—in both lean and obese men. In addition, both the lean and obese groups ate about 12% less when they chewed 40 times, compared to 15.
They chewed more, yet ate less. It also stands to reason, then, that besides consuming less calories, they burned more calories chewing. If you’re trying to lose weight, this seems like the perfect weight loss tip that doesn’t involve long workouts at the gym or huge calorie deprivation.
Who knew you could burn calories and EAT at the same time!?