“Eat slowly, chew well” the four words we have often heard from our Granma if she notices us gulping the food without chewing in hurry to finish off our meals. Yes, that was in our preschool days when our focus is playing all the time. But I am sure many adults still need this reminder with their hurried life style!
Did you know that digestion of the food starts in your mouth the moment you start chewing the food?
Yes, when you chew your food, it gets broken down into smaller pieces which get mixed with saliva in the mouth. The well-chewed food becomes soft and mashed food mass mixed with saliva. This soft food mass makes the swallowing mechanism easy. The mashed food will have a larger surface exposed for easy access for enzyme actions in the stomach. This facilitates your body to extract the greatest possible amount of nutrients from the food you eat.
Do we have any counts for chewing before swallowing?
Yes. One common piece of advice is to chew your food an estimated 32 times before swallowing. It takes fewer chews to break down soft and water-filled food. The goal of chewing is to break down your food so it loses texture.
I counted the harder foods require around 40 counts of chewing per mouthful like whole grams, nuts, hard chapattis etc.
Foods like watermelon may require fewer chews to break down — as few as 10 to 15.
What is the right way to chew the food?
- With food in your mouth, close your lips and start chewing. Your tongue should move the food from side to side and your jaw should rotate slightly.
- Chew slowly, counting to 32 with each bite of food. You may need more or less time depending on the type of food.
- Once the bite has lost all texture, you can swallow.
The hidden advantages of chewing well:
- Chewing your food many times can reduce your overall food intake, and with practice, you will get trained to eat the same amount of food in each meal, and hence it helps in weight maintenance.
- It well keeps your hunger on hold till your next meal and the nutrients extracted from the food to the maximum.
- It gives you more time to enjoy the different aromas, textures, and tastes of the food, and be mindful of your eating act!
If you have these digestive problems, bloating, gas, indigestion, etc., may be you need to pay more attention to your chewing and counting. May be you are not chewing food enough !