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Chewing and weight management.

Eating is an essential part to any diet. We need to eat to ensure we get all the energy and nutrients necessary for us to move, grow and repair. Chewing plays a key factor to eating and one that burns a surprising amount of calories.

A recent study, conducted by the University of Manchester, used a plastic dome placed over volunteer's heads to take key measurements and readings. The researchers then measured how much energy volunteers expended chewing some gum versus sitting idly, for a period of 15 minutes.

The researchers found that chewing soft gum elevated energy expenditure by about 10 per cent, while chewing stiffer gum increased this expenditure by around 15 per cent. The lead researcher said, "It’s interesting that a small change in the properties of the gum had such a notable effect on energy expenditure."

Researchers concluded that the energy used to chew real food will be even larger, as many foods such as steak and nuts require a lot of effort to break down.

Properly chewing has many other benefits, other than extra calorie burn. Here are 7 key benefits:

  1. Body absorbs more nutrients and energy from food. Chewing correctly, and thoroughly, ensures food is broken down. This then enables the digestive system to fully process and absorb all the essential nutrients within the food. As a rule of thumb, 32 chews for every bite of food.

  2. Maintains a healthy weight. Chewing for longer allows time for you stomach to register it is full. Typically, the stomach takes 15 minutes to send the signals to indicate it is full. More chewing gives your stomach greater amount of time to say it's full.

  3. Food is exposed to greater amount of saliva. Saliva is rich with enzymes that help to break-down and process food. Greater amount of chewing will allow more enzymes to be released and start the digestive process.

  4. Easier to digest. Chewing ensures food is ground-down into smaller pieces. Smaller the pieces the easier it is to digest and to be absorbed.

  5. Good for teeth. Chewing is good for your teeth. It helps to strength your jaw and gums which helps to limit gum disease. Strong jaw bones provide a strong foundation for your teeth to be held and protected.

  6. Less bacteria in your gut. As mentioned, chewing for longer releases more saliva. Saliva has antibacterial properties which helps to kill off things that could upset out stomachs. Longer the exposure to saliva, the more time it has to kill off any bad bacteria.

  7. Taste. Chewing for longer releases more of the foods natural taste. Your taste buds have time to process the signals and this allows enjoyment of the food taste.

You should chew your food around 32 times per bite. The overall goal when you chew your food is to grind whatever you’re eating into a fine paste.

In addition, you should:

  • Chew slowly and steadily.

  • Chew until your mouthful of food is liquefied or lost all of its texture.

  • Finish chewing and swallowing completely before taking another bite of food.

  • Wait to drink fluids until you’ve swallowed.

Happy eating!

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