You might remember your parents or grandparents suggesting you at the dinner table to eat slowly and chew your food properly. Somewhere deep down at the back of our mind, we all know that it is right and good for our health. But, in today’s fast-paced lifestyle, we forget to follow this simple but very effective practice for our overall health. You might not realize it, but this simple action of chewing your food 32 times brings amazing health benefits to our body and mind. Your grandparent’s advice of chewing your food 32 times, is also backed up by modern science! Read on to know more about benefits of chewing your food 32 times and science behind it.
What Happens In The Body When You Chew Your Food Properly?
Digestion Of The Food Begins In Your Mouth:
Our body is the most sophisticated machine designed by nature. When food is smelt, seen or even thought about, a signal is sent to our brain’s primary salivary center (medulla oblongata) and the saliva starts to secrete in our mouth.
Mouth is the most important, but often neglected organ when we talk about digestion. Digestion process starts as soon as we put food in our mouth.
When food is chewed properly in our mouth, it breaks down into smaller particles and saliva is then mixed with these tiny food particles. Once the saliva comes in contact with the food it immediately starts to break down the starches in it (complex carbohydrates) with the help of special enzymes. An enzyme called Amylase breaks down starches into sugars, which your body can absorb more easily. Saliva also contains an enzyme called Lingual Lipase which breaks down the fats.
Taste Buds Send Signals To Our Brain:
Oral taste buds, collections of about 50 to 100 specialized epithelial cells are scattered throughout the oral cavity, primarily on the front, sides, and back of the tongue.
Although oral taste buds are not neurons, they have a number of neuronal properties. These send a multitude of interacting signals to the brain, loaded with sensory, nutritive, and other information.
For example, when we chew our food properly, these taste buds send a signal to our brain about what type of food we are eating and prepare our stomach and other organs in the digestive tract to properly digest that type of food.
These signals help to secrete the right amount and the right type of digestive juices in our stomach to ease the digestive process of a particular food we are eating.
Note that the taste buds don’t know if you are eating Pasta, Bread, Cheese or Chicken. They only know what is there inside your food – like proteins, carbs, fats, and other nutrients.
Secretion of the right amount of digestive juices also makes sure that all the nutrients inside the food are getting absorbed in our body completely.
The resultant mixture is then passed to the stomach for further processing.
Bad Effects Of Gulping Down Food Without Chewing Properly
When we rush and do not chew our food properly we gulp down large particles of food.
Because of this fast eating habit saliva does not mix with the food properly. Starch and sugar which should have been pre-processed in our oral cavity, along with big lumps of food pass down to stomach as is.
Fast eating does not give time to the taste buds to send signals to the brain and stomach fails to secrete the required digestive juices. This gives extra load on our stomach to properly digest it.
Stomach requires more energy to break down food. The energy which requires for the stomach comes from the blood. The excess blood required for the digestion starts to flow towards the stomach from other organs including the brain.
This is why we feel lethargic/sleepy after having a big lunch or dinner. In reality, we should feel fresh and energetic after having our food.
Large food particles make it difficult for the digestive tract to absorb all the nutrients from it.
Undigested food particles may enter our bloodstream. Which increases chances of toxins accumulation inside our body.
All of the above facts lead to various health issues like Weight gain, Obesity, Diabetes, High Cholesterol, Acid Reflux, Digestive problems, Mood swings, Acne and other skin problems.
Benefits Of Eating Food Slowly And Chewing It Properly
- The more you chew, more nutrients from the food will be absorbed by your body.
- It helps in maintaining healthy body weight. People who are obese, for instance, tend to chew less (and for shorter periods) than those who are a normal weight. The longer you chew, the more time it will take you to finish a meal, it takes time (generally about 15 to 20 minutes), for your stomach to signal your brain that you’re full. This may explain why a study found people reported feeling fuller when they ate slowly.
- Many of your digestive issues will be solved with this eating habit.
- You will feel light and energetic after having your meals.
- You will feel more satisfied and blissful, which will make you think clearly about all other aspects of your life. No more mood swings for you!
- This will also prevent many other health issues from coming your way.
But why ’32’ Times?!
In Indian tradition, chewing 32 times is linked to the number of teeth we have, which is 32. That is chewing 32 times, once for each tooth. Though this number is just to etch the importance of chewing properly into our memory.
Instead of strict counting, here are some points you should take into consideration.
- Eat in a relaxed, non-distracted environment. Eating on the run or while you’re working or watching TV is not conducive to proper chewing. Keep that mobile phone away while you eat!
- Smell your food before your first bite. Involve your other senses while eating, it will help to increase your food satisfaction.
- Take smaller bites of food, to begin with.
- Chew slowly and steadily.
- Chew until your mouthful of food is liquefied or converted into a paste-like form.
- To start with chew your food double the time you generally chew and slowly increase your bites.
- Finish chewing and swallowing completely before taking another bite of food in your hand.
- Aside from the potential health benefits, chewing properly also helps you to really enjoy your food! If you rush through your meal with hardly any chewing, you’re not really tasting or enjoying the food.
Developing this habit of prolonged chewing might seem difficult at first and you might also feel weird to chew your food that longer. But remember this simple lifestyle change is worth it. Consistency is the key. Very soon you will get used to it and your body will thank you for that.
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