This year, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to chew my food 32 times. My friends and family incessantly demanded why I started this “horrible” habit. I thought I would share the reasons with y’all, as well.
Optimal Secretion of Enzymes
When you chew your food properly, the taste buds in your mouth send signals to your brain about what type of food you are eating. These signals tell the brain which enzymes to secrete and in what quantities, easing the digestive process. The secretion of the right amount of digestive juices also makes sure that all the nutrients inside the food are getting absorbed in our body completely. However, eating quickly does not give time to the taste buds to send signals to the brain and stomach fails to secrete the required digestive juices. This puts extra load on your stomach to digest the food efficiently. Purdue University professor and nutrition scientist Richard Mattes aptly put it as,
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.
So, chewing 32 makes it easier for your intestines to absorb nutrients from the food particles as they pass through. It also gives enzymes in your saliva more time to start breaking down your food. One of these enzymes is lingual lipase, an enzyme that helps break down fats. Saliva helps to lubricate your food so it’s easier on your esophagus.
Lethargy after eating
Since the stomach has an extra load, it requires more energy to break down food. The energy which requires for the stomach comes from excess blood, which starts to flow towards the stomach from other organs including the brain. This results in you feeling lethargic and sleepy after a big meal. Moreover, there are chances of undigested food particles entering your bloodstream, increasing toxins accumulation inside your body.
Processing Warnings from the Brain
Chewing also helps in maintaining a healthy body weight. People who are obese tend to chew less and for shorter periods than those who have a healthy BMI. The longer you chew, the more time it will take you to finish a meal so your brain can warn you when your stomach is full. Generally, it takes 15 to 20 minutes for your brain to send these signals, so chewing 32 times gives your brain the time to identify when your stomach is full.
Why 32 times?
Chewing 32 times is linked to the number of teeth you have. So, chew 32 times for each tooth. Yes, this sounds very unscientific because it is! Indians (moms, I think) just came up with this story to inculcate the importance of chewing properly. In actuality, there is no correlation between digestive processes and chewing 32 times.