Chewing helps get your food from point A -- your mouth -- to point B -- your digestive system. However, there are a few more reasons why chewing your food thoroughly and completely is important. In addition to the physical breakdown of food, chewing also releases special chemicals that aid digestion. Knowing how to chew your food thoroughly can improve the way you eat.
Prevents Esophageal Pain
The esophagus is the thin tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. When you chew your food properly, it is able to travel down the esophagus freely to reach the stomach. When you do not chew food thoroughly enough, the larger food particles can become lodged in your throat. This can cause pain or more severe issues, such as tearing a portion of the throat or esophagus.
The act of chewing stimulates your salivary glands to release saliva. The saliva helps moisten your food. Saliva also contains special chemicals that help your body break down carbohydrates This is why it is important to chew your food thoroughly -- doing so helps to fully coat your food with saliva and aids digestion.
When you chew your food thoroughly, taste buds located on your tongue send signals to your brain about the flavors you are tasting. The brain then sends signals to your stomach about the type of food you digested. The stomach then secretes certain chemicals and enzymes that will help digest that particular food type. This means nutrients in the food are released and assimilated into the body faster. Foods that are thoroughly chewed are also better digested. The stomach has to make less digestive juices to digest a small piece of food than a larger one.
Prevents Bacterial Digestion
Saliva can kill some bacteria that naturally occur in some foods yet may be harmful to the stomach. By chewing your food properly, saliva has time to destroy some bacteria. Also, swallowing larger bites that are not properly chewed prevents food from being completely digested in the stomach. If your food is not completely digested, it can release gas and bacteria in your intestines as it moves through your digestive tract.
Due to differences in food textures, there is no magic number as to how many times you should chew your food. You should, however, chew your foods so thoroughly that the texture is even. If you can no longer identify what food it is based on its texture, you have chewed enough.