How many times do I have to chew my food before swallowing?

October 01, 2019

How many times do I have to chew my food before swallowing?
How many times do I have to chew my food before swallowing?

The chewing action produced by your mouth is actually the beginning of your body’s entire digestive practice. Chewing food breaks down larger chunks into smaller pieces, making it easier for your system to digest. Additionally, the saliva in your mouth has enzymes that also help with the process of breaking down food.


The general advice is to chew your food until it is small enough to be easy to swallow; this way your stomach won’t have to work too hard. If food spends too little time in your mouth, it will not be exposed to the enzyme in your saliva long enough, and won’t break down the carbohydrates in your food.


Carbohydrates are mostly not digested in the stomach, so too many carbohydrates going to your stomach will make your stomach work harder than it should. Some things, your stomach simply can’t digest. This food then travels to the top of your small intestine. Once that happens you may experience discomfort and bloating.


Different healthcare professionals will give you different advice on this subject. Some will say that instead of focusing on the number of times you chew your food, you should try putting your fork down between each bite. Chew until you can’t chew anymore, swallow, and then pick up your fork again.


That being said, other experts claim that chewing food 32 times before swallowing is the number you should aim for. Of course, this number is kind of relative because you may need more than 32 chews to break down a difficult piece of steak, but somewhere around 5 chews to break down a piece of watermelon, which is mostly water anyways.


Why it’s important to chew your food


• As mentioned above, chewing your food not only causes to food to break down because of the force applied by your teeth, but also because the food is exposed to the enzymes in saliva that also help break it down. You then swallow, and the food moves on into your esophagus.

• Your esophagus then pushes the food into your stomach, where it is held while it continues to mix with the enzymes. It is important for the enzymes to break down the food so you can then use it as energy.

• Once the food is digested in your stomach, it will travel on to your small intestine. There, the food will have the opportunity to mix with even more enzymes! The nutrients that escape while the food is being broken down are then absorbed by the small intestine.

• The waste that is left over from the chewed food (the stuff that isn’t nutrients) heads on down to the large intestine, also known as the colon. You know what happens after that, so let’s not go into details.


If you are in the habit of eating too fast, and not chewing your food enough, you may risk unpleasant and even harmful side effects, including, but not limited to:


• Bloating
• Diarrhea
• Heartburn
• Cramps
• Nausea
• Malnutrition
• Dehydration
• Indigestion
• Skin problems


The moral of this story is, chew your food until it is broken down, relatively without texture, and easy to swallow. You’ll enjoy your food more, and be in better control of your overall health.


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