Chewing is the first step in digestion. Most people know that thorough chewing helps you break down food into smaller, more digestible food particles-- but did you know that when you chew, you produce digestive enzymes and gut hormones? .
If you eat too quickly and do not chew your food enough, your body can have a lot of difficulty digesting and absorbing nutrients. This is not only because of the large particles of food from insufficient chewing, but the lack of digestive enzymes produced in the mouth (yes, they're not only in your gut). Chewing initiates lingual lipase production, which is secreted from under the tongue, and helps with fat digestion. There is also an amylase enzyme secreted from a gland in your cheek that initiates carbohydrate digestion. Lastly, protease is secreted from your submandibular glands in the bottom of your mouth and help digest protein. This all takes place before your food even hits your stomach!
Insufficient chewing is linked to weight gain. This is because chewing stimulates the production of gut hormones that help you feel full. On average, people who chew more thoroughly and take longer to consume a meal, weigh less than those who do not.
Whether you're trying to lose weight, have a digestive problem or are just trying to change your relationship with food, it would be beneficial to start paying attention to how you eat and chew. Taking the time to thoroughly chew and enjoy your food can improve many digestive complaints and help aid in weight loss. I typically tell my patients to chew their food until it is closer to a liquid state and naturally starts going down the throat. At one point, I faced this problem myself and had to make a significant effort to time my meals and chew thoroughly. We are not meant to eat a meal in 5 minutes! I can tell you that since I started chewing thoroughly and taking my time to eat, I have noticed I need less food to feel full, weigh less, have less digestive issues and enjoy eating on a new level. Make a point to practice mindful eating!