Thursday, March 8, 2018

Want to reduce weight or diabetes risk? Chew slowly!

This is science speaking, even though it sounds a bit like something our mothers might say!  A study of 1,083 Japanese men and women comparing fast, normal, and slow eaters was presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in 2017. [1] The study found that fast eaters had:
  • 5 times more new-onset metabolic syndrome than slow eaters
  • increased waist circumference and overall weight
  • higher blood glucose levels
  • lower levels of good HDL cholesterol
Also, the fast eaters in the study reported eating dinner 2 hours before sleeping and snacking after dinner, both high-risk habits for weight gain.  Previous studies have confirmed these findings, so this isn’t new news.  When we spend more time chewing our food, we feel satisfied sooner – the stomach takes about 20 minutes to get a message to the brain that we’re full. 

My recommendation:
Chewing our food slowly is definitely a good idea for both weight management and overall health.  It’s also a good idea not to drink your calories, and there are at least two reasons for this:
  1. Chewing is an important first stage of the digestion process, so it also benefits gut health
  2. Concentrated liquid calories like smoothies and juice can be a weight and blood sugar trap, even when made from whole foods
Eating a whole food Mediterranean-style diet with plenty of vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, whole grains, and unprocessed meat naturally requires more chewing.  On the other hand, the more foods are processed, the smaller their particle size, and the faster we can eat them.  To read about other reasons to avoid processed food and liquid calories, see pages 9 and 74-75 in Good Food, Great Medicine, 3rd edition. 

Miles Hassell MD