Chew! Yep, I said chew and I mean chew a lot. Enjoy every morsel that you eat while at your super bowl celebration. Pick something that looks delicious and then chew each bite until there is nothing left to chew. Why? Then you can really enjoy the food at the party. The slower you eat each bite, the better you can digest your food. And in turn, the more nutrients you will obtain from that food and the less you’ll eat. Chewing your food isn’t a new directive, but recents studies have confirmed that this old and simple advice is more powerful for your health and your waistline than we imagined.
Chewing your food thoroughly triggers your digestive system to produce digestive acids which help the body absorb nutrients. But this process takes time and if you don’t chew enough, your digestion is already compromised. Plus, digestion, specifically of carbohydrates and fats, actually starts in your mouth, by the enzymes in your saliva. Efficient chewing also increases the surface area of foods, helping enzymes break down food. When you don’t chew thoroughly, these enzymes can’t break down starches or digest fats, which makes it harder for your body to digest what it intakes. Large food particles that aren’t digested fully can pass through the colon, where they become magnets for growing bacteria. This can create the smell and bloating we all want to avoid, as well as causing sluggishness and loss of energy.
The longer your food stays in touch with your saliva, the better lubricated it gets, which eases the stress on the esophagus. Saliva also helps relax your stomach muscles. Without enough to relax these muscles, cramping and pain is more likely.
The effects of your saliva don’t stop there. Prof. Hajime Nishioka’s research at Doshisha University in Japan, found saliva may minimizes the damage of cancer forming substances found in food. He reported that saliva kills off carcinogens found in your food in 30 seconds.
Speed eaters beat the bodies’ full-signals to the punch, so more food is eaten before the hormones that let us know we are full can peak. Chewing basically buys time for these hormones to respond. This isn’t new advice, but the research indicates people really do eat less food and weigh less. Researchers reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that obese participants chewed their food less than the thin participants. Regardless of weight, participants ate 12% less calories when they chewed each bite 40 times rather than 15 times per bite. Other studies report 10% less calories eaten with slower chewing. That may not seem significant, but 10 to 12% less calories consumed over a few years translates into a dress size.
The bones holding your teeth stay strong from the ‘workout’ when you chew and helps blood flow to the brain. In addition, the saliva produced while chewing is also beneficial, helping to clear food particles from your mouth and wash away bacteria so there may be less plaque buildup and tooth decay.
- Take smaller bites of food
- Chew slowly and steadily
- Chew until your mouthful of food is liquefied or has lost all of its texture
- Finish chewing and swallowing completely before taking another bite of food
- Wait to drink fluids until you’ve swallowed
Rather than depending totally on your will power to avoid foods, enjoy some of your favorite party foods. In fact, you can enjoy them even more by chewing the life out of them! It can be a healthy win for you this year, no matter who wins the Super Bowl!