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Chew Your Way to Better Gut Health: Why Chewing Food Matters

Chipmunk eating a piece of fruit.

Chew Your Way to Better Gut Health: Why Chewing Food Matters

As a nutrition expert specializing in helping women improve their gut health, I’ve witnessed the profound impact that diet and lifestyle choices can have on digestion. Often, we hyper-focus on what we can or cannot eat. However, there’s a crucial aspect we tend to overlook, one that holds significant sway over our gut health – chewing our food. Yes, that’s right! Chewing isn’t merely about preventing choking; it plays a pivotal role in ensuring the well-being of your gut. Join me as we delve into why chewing matters and how it can benefit your gut.

The Importance of Chewing

In our fast-paced world, many of us rush through meals, barely taking the time to chew our food properly. I’m no exception; I’ve been guilty of this countless times, eating in front of my computer or TV, distracted, and hastily swallowing large food chunks. But this habit comes with consequences. After lunch, I often feel the effects – bloated, gassy, and uncomfortable. Insufficient chewing doesn’t just affect our gut health; it can also give rise to a host of other health issues.

The digestion process initiates with the first sight and smell of food [1]. This triggers the release of digestive juices, setting the stage for the digestive process. However, it’s chewing that takes center stage, and here’s why:

1. Breaking Down Large Food Pieces

Chewing is like a mini-food processor, breaking big bites into more manageable pieces. This first step makes it easier for your stomach and intestines to perform their functions [2]. 

2. The Magic of Saliva

Chewing stimulates saliva production. Your saliva contains enzymes like amylase, which start the breakdown of carbohydrates in your food, transforming them into easily absorbable components [2]. 

3. Enhancing Nutrient Absorption

Chewing ensures you get the maximum goodness from your food. When food is adequately broken down, your body can extract more vital nutrients, including vitamins and minerals [3,4].

Chewing’s impact on Gut health

Now, let’s explore how proper chewing can work wonders for your gut health:

1. Smoother Digestion

Thoroughly chewing your food makes it easier for your stomach and intestines to carry out further digestion. Reduced effort means fewer issues like bloating, indigestion, and gas [5]. Who wouldn’t say yes to that? There’s nothing worse than finishing a meal quickly and feeling bloated and uncomfortable afterward.

2. Lower Risk of GUt Troubles

Insufficient chewing can result in larger food particles reaching the colon. This isn’t where they should be! Harmful bacteria in your colon might feast on these undigested chunks, leading to problems like gas, diarrhea, and an increased risk of conditions like SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) [5].

3. Appetite Control

Mindful, deliberate chewing can help regulate your appetite. Some research even suggests that taking time to chew may lead to reduced food intake, aiding in weight management and preventing overeating [3].

Tips for Improved Chewing

Now that you understand why chewing is your gut’s secret weapon, here are some straightforward tips to make the most of each bite:

1. Slow Down

Strive to chew your food until there are no discernible chunks, achieving an almost liquid consistency. While I’ve heard suggestions for 20-30 chews per bite, I have yet to find specific research. Adapting to this approach takes time, but the more you chew, the better the food breakdown and the more saliva flows. 

2. Mindful Eating

Put aside distractions like your phone or TV. Fully engage with your meal, savoring each bite. It’s a delectable experience awaiting your appreciation! 

Opt for Smaller Bites

Taking smaller bites not only eases the chewing process but also discourages rushing through your meal.

Final Thoughts

Chewing your food properly may seem like a small gesture, but its impact on your gut health is immense. It’s a straightforward yet highly effective method for supporting improved digestion, enhanced nutrient absorption, and a reduced risk of digestive issues. So, the next time you sit down to eat, take it slow, chew well, savour it. Your digestive system will extend its gratitude!

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