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Why You Should Chew Your Food Thoroughly: 4 Compelling Reasons

When you chew healthy food thoroughly, you promote many aspects of your overall health.

When you chew your food thoroughly, you not only make it easier to swallow, you also promote other aspects of your health. The common recommendation is to chew each bite about 30 times. Are you getting all the benefits that thorough chewing can provide?

Chewing is important for nutrition, swallowing, and proper digestion

We all need the nutrients that fresh, healthy food provides, and chewing sufficiently is the healthiest way to get them. Chewing encourages your saliva flow, making it easier to swallow. Within the saliva are digestive enzymes that begin breaking down the food chemically for your system to absorb. This process continues in the stomach. The more thoroughly you break up the food by chewing, the easier it is for the digestion process to continue. 

However, even though thoroughly chewing food is good for digestion, completely liquidizing food is not better. Many foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, contain healthy fiber that liquidizing could reduce.

In addition, proper chewing can help you eat the amount of food your body needs. Eating fresh, healthy food is essential, but eating too much of it—which can happen when you eat too fast without taking the time to chew—can overwhelm your system and cause other issues such as bloating, gas, heartburn, tiredness, unwanted weight gain, and even sleep difficulty. By taking the time to chew each bite, you give your digestive system more time to begin feeling as though you’ve eaten enough. 

Your teeth and jaws need the workout that chewing provides 

Like other parts of your body, your teeth and jaws can benefit from exercise. The simplest way to get this exercise is to chew! Nowadays, human diets often include processed food, and much of it is soft; think of canned soups and vegetables, packaged soft bread and baked goods; soft dairy products, and so on. 

This softer diet and other factors contribute to the continued shrinking of human jaws. Undersized jaws, which have evolved over time, are a significant factor in the need for orthodontic treatment and breathing issues. But thoroughly chewing healthy food (such as cooked lean meats and fish, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables) as well as sugar-free gum helps keep your teeth and jaws strong, which is important for healthy jaw joints and for the best chance of keeping your own teeth as you age.

Chewing can help protect against cognitive decline

Recent research has shown links between cognitive decline and the loss of chewing ability and teeth. A 2017 study found a negative effect on cognitive function due to the loss of chewing ability, and in a 2021 study, researchers found a higher probability of cognitive issues in adults older than 45 who were missing premolars and molars, the back teeth with the most chewing force, than in those not missing molars. 

While other studies have suggested that replacing missing teeth with implants may provide cognitive function benefits (as well as helping to restore chewing ability, which can help improve nutrient intake and simply help you enjoy eating), chewing healthy food and sugar-free gum throughout your life to prevent tooth loss has known benefits for your oral and overall health.

If you have type 2 diabetes, thorough chewing may help improve blood sugar levels 

Chewing thoroughly with all your back teeth—both sets of molars and both sets of premolars, eight teeth in all—can help keep your blood glucose level under control, according to a recent study.

The research team worked with a group of 94 patients with type 2 diabetes, all of whom were taking type 2 diabetes medication. The researchers found that among these patients, the control group (41 individuals who had all four sets of their back teeth) had lower glucose levels than the test group (53 patients who had three sets or fewer of their back teeth). The difference between the two groups’ glucose levels was approximately 2 points.

The study concluded that a link existed between inefficient chewing due to missing teeth and a higher incidence of poorly controlled blood glucose in those with type 2 diabetes.

Why is this? According to this article, one reason is that fiber is among the nutrients that help reduce blood glucose levels, and you can get it by chewing fiber-containing foods. Chewing can also help your intestines secrete more insulin. Furthermore, chewing may help you maintain a healthy glucose level because it can help you to feel as though you’ve eaten enough.

The bottom line

Eating healthy food and chewing it thoroughly is an essential part of both your oral health and overall health. If you experience chewing difficulty or are missing teeth, contact us. We’ll be glad to examine you and recommend a treatment plan. You deserve the best health possible!

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