Could the battle of the bulge really be won simply by chewing your food more? As strange as the idea may sound, a new study out of China has scientists scratching their heads and saying, “Maybe it could.”
We know that “eating fast does not allow your brain to react to the satiety signal coming from your body,” says Richard Béliveau, chair for cancer prevention and treatment at the University of Quebec. This will lead you to believe that you are still hungry when your body really just needs some time to tell your brain that you’re full.
Also, for advocated of eating raw, chewing your food thoroughly will lessen the immune response of cooked food.
Most people think that digestion begins in the stomach. Yet, with proper, health-promoting digestion, this process actually begins in the mouth. The process of chewing is a vital component of the digestive activities that occur in the mouth, inextricably linked to good digestion, and therefore, good health.
Scientists from the School of Public Health at Harbin Medical University in China wanted to put the traditional wisdom that chewing your food more can help you lose or maintain weight to the test. Much to everyone’s surprise, the research revealed that the old theory does have merit.
The research team from HMU recruited 30 male volunteers for the study. Sixteen of the men had lean body-mass indexes (BMIs) of 18.5 to 23, while 14 had BMIs of 27.5 or higher…putting them in the obese category.
Each morning, the volunteers were given a traditional Chinese breakfast of 300 grams of pork pie (yes, apparently pork pie is a common way to start the day in China) with the option of having more servings. The men were videotaped as they ate, and the number of times they chewed each bite of food was recorded.
And while I can’t imagine trying to eat with a camera shoved in my face, the men seemed to get along fine and the taping revealed some really interesting findings.
On the first morning, the volunteers ranged anywhere from 15 to 40 chews per bite of food. And although the bite sizes were approximately the same…around 10 grams…the obese men ate each bite of food more quickly and with fewer chews than did the thin men.
On subsequent mornings, volunteers were then instructed to chew either 15 or 40 times for each bite of food. On days they were instructed to chew 40 times, the men consumed almost 12% fewer calories overall. That’s an impressive drop considering it was such a small change in habit.
Blood tests also revealed that on the days that the volunteers chewed each bite 40 times the levels of gherlin…the hormone that stimulates hunger…in the volunteers’ bloodstreams were lower than on days that they chewed each bite of food only 15 times.
So, in other words, just by chewing their food more the volunteers ate less and probably felt less hungry to boot. Not a bad trade-off for a few more stretches of the jaw muscles I’d say.
The bottom line is that I encourage you to not only “not bite off more than you can chew” but also to “chew more of what you bite.”