Chewing Food Increases Energy Availability and Nutritional Potency
If you were ever told to chew your food at the dinner table, or if you’ve ever said it to your children, the main motivation was likely to prevent choking, not increase nutrient absorption. But researchers with Purdue University suggest chewing your food into fine particles could actually improve their digestion and the rate and volume at which nutrients are able to be used – which can lead to weight loss.
The findings of this research was recently presented at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting and Food Expo in Chicago. In the study, scientists looked at participants, how they chewed almonds and the amount of fecal fat and energy loss associated with the chewing. Some participants chewed the almonds 10 times, some 25, and others 40.
Those who chewed the almonds the most seemed to reap the most from them nutritionally. The smaller particles were absorbed into the body at a faster pace. And those who chewed less, eliminated those larger particles without them being completely broken down.
While chewing habits are developed from a young age and may be difficult to change, the benefits could be worthwhile.
“Particle size [affects the] bioaccessibility of the energy of the food that is being consumed. The more you chew, the less is lost and more is retained in the body,” explained lead researcher Dr. Richard Mattes.
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Fatty acids, when lost through waste, are a wasted energy source. Dr. Mattes explains that “Fiber binds with fatty acids to create energy sources in the body.” Therefore, getting high quality fiber sources (like those from organic vegetables, fruits, and whole grains), and chewing them well decreases (nutrient) fat loss and increases energy levels.
Additionally, chewing your food properly makes for proper digestion, which also helps with weight loss. What’s more, chewing your food more will spark a change in your eating habits, causing you to eat more slowly and therefore less food, as you’ll become full faster.
While several other factors may play a role in how the body processes food into energy, this study certainly gives us something to chew on (pun!). Chewing slowly and deliberately has also been shown to reduce overeating and prevent choking. Yes, your mother was right—chewing your food is a healthy habit to embrace.