How much should I chew?
February 23, 2015 4:05 PM   Subscribe

Nutritionally speaking, does it matter how much I chew my food? And would the advice change depending on the type of foot it is (fruit, meat, carb, etc.)? On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being as little chewing as possible to get the food down, 10 being completely pulverized food in mouth), is there a number I should aim for?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Unless you have digestive trouble (any number of medical conditions) then you can chew until it's comfortable to swallow.

You probably want it to be an 8?

Pay attention to your excriment. if it looks like undigested food or isn't a uniform color and consistency, you either had a medical condition or you're not chewing enough*

*does not apply to corn or popcorn.
posted by royalsong at 4:09 PM on February 23, 2015


Here is an excerpt from Mary Roach's Gulp basically about this issue. Short answer: it probably doesn't matter enough to spend any time worrying about it.
posted by brainmouse at 4:12 PM on February 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


Unless you have digestive trouble (any number of medical conditions)

Oh, good point. Yeah, to clarify, I don't have any medical conditions or digestive trouble. And, just so I understand you correctly, you're saying that there is a danger in potentially not chewing enough, but once you've chewed enough (whatever "enough" is), then there's no real advantage to continuing on to the pulverization stage?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 4:13 PM on February 23, 2015


Another consideration: susceptibility to choking on or aspirating food relative to chewing technique.
posted by carmicha at 4:16 PM on February 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


you're saying that there is a danger in potentially not chewing enough, but once you've chewed enough (whatever "enough" is), then there's no real advantage to continuing on to the pulverization stage?

The only danger I can think of, of not chewing your food enough, is choking. You want your food to be the consistency that will easily move down your esophagus. That's why we have teeth and saliva. Your stomach is fairly powerful and your intestines do their job efficiently. If we weren't chewing enough, we'd have either died out or evolved different teeth, salivary glands, and jaw muscles.

I suppose you might not be getting all the nutrients of some foods if you didn't chew them enough.. but it's negligible. It's more important that you eat a varied diet then it is to only a limited diet but chew it well. (And vitamin supplements, taken as directed, can't hurt if you're worried about this)

This is a "listen to your body" sort of thing. Is eating comfortable? Does your throat feel ok? Is passing the remains of digested food easy and consistent?
posted by royalsong at 4:30 PM on February 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is 19th century John Harvey Kellogg quackery. Look up Fletcherizing.
posted by asockpuppet at 4:52 PM on February 23, 2015


Choose the number that is maximally delicious, minimally disgusting.

I'm basing this on a nutritional experiment* in which people were given either various solid foods, or the same foods blended into a smoothie, where the combination of foods was such that the experimental subjects enjoyed the solids, but were disgusted by the smoothie. (Imagine something like: lamb, salad, roasted potatoes, peaches, cheese.) Even though the smoothie was more 'chewed' (albeit not with saliva), the subjects were found to have absorbed less nutrition (based on some marker or other) from the food which disgusted them.

So -- if you find overly masticated food disgusting, then speed up. On the other hand, if you find that leisurely eating helps you savor your food, then slowing down probably has nutritional benefits.

* I remember reading and quoting and maybe even bookmarking this experiment, which seemed respectable, but a quick search didn't turn it up, and I've no idea whether it has been replicated.
posted by feral_goldfish at 6:34 PM on February 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've often read the claim that smoothies are not as good for you as eating the equivalent whole fruit because pureeing them gives your stomach a head start on digesting them and sends a rush of sugar to your bloodstream. I don't know whether this is science-based, but if it is, and blood sugar is a concern for you, it might be a reason to chew as lightly as is safe and comfortable.
posted by lakeroon at 7:47 PM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't know if it matters nutritionally in terms of actual absorption, but if you're trying to optimize health and have any issues with weight or satiety, I'm working on some research right now with pre-surgery bariatric patients-- and one of the big things they tell them is to chew their food thoroughly. This is partially because they need to learn to chew thoroughly for after surgery, but also because it slows down how quickly you can eat. Eating slowly and with more care (so for instance paying attention to your chewing) tends to make you eat less and triggers feelings of fullness earlier.
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:13 PM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


« Older Amazing trip, party of one!   |   Film rights for different works on the same... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.