As many of us eat while watching TV or scrolling through social media, you probably aren’t tracking how many times you’re chewing your food before swallowing it. But, the way in which you chew your food can actually impact the nutrients you receive from it.
According to psychiatrist Drew Ramsey, M.D., your mental state can also affect the way you eat and anxiety can lead to less chewing before you swallow.
In the Mindbodygreen (mbg) report, Ramsey says that when you spend less time properly chewing your food, the enzymes in your gut have less surface area to work with when they try to break the food down. Basically, this means that your body isn’t able to absorb as many nutrients from the food.
Chewing your food properly really increases the “efficiency and the nutrient density of your food,” Ramsey said on the mbg podcast.
If you’re also feeling stressed or anxious while eating, this can disrupt the communication between your brain and digestive system.
According to mbg, eating while experiencing negative feelings can result in you absorbing only 20% of nutrients from the food. To help combat this, Ramsey recommends injecting mindfulness into your meals. This means really focusing on what is in front of you and ditching any kind of technology, which is just a distraction.
“Really focus on being present at the table with those you love and with your food,” he said.
Chewing is actually super important for your health, as it’s the first step of digestion. If you’re suffering from digestion issues that include bloating or acid reflux, your lack of chewing could be exacerbating these problems.
According to Healthline, many experts recommend chewing a mouthful of food roughly 32 times before swallowing. The goal here is to break down the food until it loses texture. If the food is already soft, it won’t take as long to masticate.
Foods that are slightly harder to chew like meat or nuts might require 40 chews per mouthful, while watermelon might only need 15 to break down.
Here’s to chewing more mindfully!