How many times do you chew every mouthful? It’s a question that most of us are unlikely to have an answer for. We barely pay attention to what we’re eating, let alone how many times we are chewing! And yet, there are many who believe that the secret to great health lies in how many times we chew our food.
You might not realize it, but the simple action of chewing your food 32 times brings amazing health benefits to our body and mind. And there is scientific evidence to back this!
In the 1800s, American health-food guru Horace Fletcher recommended chewing each mouthful at least 32 times before swallowing it. He himself chewed every mouthful 100 times and attributed his energy and superhuman strength to this practice. Mahatma Gandhi is supposed to have lived by the adage – drink your food and eat your water – meaning, chew everything very well before swallowing it.
In multiple studies, including the last one done just in 2016, it was found that chewing food well lead to amazing health benefits, so we’re going to give you 5 of those here.
People who chew food for longer absorb foods better. The smaller the molecules of food, the better the digestive enzymes can break them down and extract nutrition from it. The more you chew, the more you retain and the less you waste through excretion.
Try this – take a piece of bread – whatever form of bread, whether it’s a slice of toast or it’s a tortilla or a roti, and chew it 32 times. When it turns to sugar in your mouth, you know the carbohydrates have been fully broken down and what you’re tasting is sugar. Now imagine if you swallowed the same piece of bread instead of chewing it. It will sit in your stomach till it breaks down.
We all know the post-meal energy drop that happens after a heavy meal. Brain fog, feeling slightly cold…you know the feeling. This happens because the blood from your brain and extremities must rush to the stomach and digestive system, which is overloaded. Once again, a practical suggestion, for immediate implementation: chew every mouthful thoroughly during any one meal, after which you would normally have felt drowsy, like, say, lunch. Just see the difference that chewing produces. You have half-digested your food in your mouth, so less blood needs to rush to the stomach. The end result – you feel light and energetic at the end of the meal, instead of heavy and drowsy
That holy grail that none of us can get enough of. Research studies have shown that when we chew food thoroughly, we eat lesser portions and we lose weight. Now you may think this is because we get bored chewing. That’s not really the case. What happens is – it takes the stomach some time to convey to the brain that it is full. When we gobble up our food, the stomach does not get a chance to convey fullness, so we eat more than we need to. Mindful eating has reduced portion sizes by 15% in studies, so it’s a gradual but steady weight loss
Ayurveda has a saying that is often used in North India. It goes “Danton ke kaam Aanthon ko doge toh bimaari aayegi.” What this means is “If you give your guts or digestive system the work meant to be done by the teeth, you will invite diseases.” We are not just what we eat, but also how we eat. Mahesh Jayaraman, co-founder of Sepalika and renowned holistic therapist, has had diabetics chew their way out of sugar cravings, patients of IBS or irritable bowel syndrome fix their allergic guts by chewing well and even insomniacs sleep deeper and better by eating slowly and mindfully.
In Indian tradition, chewing 32 times is linked to the number of teeth we have, which is 32. That is chewing 32 times, once for each tooth. Though this number is just to etch the importance of chewing properly into our memory.
Keeping an exact count of 32 can be difficult so,…
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So, go ahead, get this simple trick right. Set aside 30 minutes for each major meal of the day and watch your health improve as you chew every mouthful thoroughly.