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Did you know that digestion actually starts in the mouth?  When you chew, saliva is released which contains enzymes that break carbohydrates down into simple sugars - this is the beginning phase of digestion.

When we eat, many of us aren't thinking about chewing our food.  In fact, I would submit that most people just eat their food and don't actually savor the flavor and chew completely.  However, there are health benefits to slowing down and chewing thoroughly.  A good rule of thumb before swallowing is to chew your food 15-25 times, depending on the amount of food and the consistency of the bite.  For more fibrous foods, like vegetables and grains, more chews are recommended as opposed to eating softer foods, like mashed potatoes.  Although chewing plays a small role in digestion, the smaller the particles of food your stomach has to process, the easier it is on your system.  Larger food particles place a heavy load on the body's processing systems which can lead to decreased vitamin and mineral availability, eventually leading to deficiencies.  A key point to think about when you're eating which may help you to chew better: Your stomach doesn't have teeth!

Feeling fuller faster is another benefit to slowing down and chewing well.  It takes anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes for your stomach to get the message to your brain that it's had enough food.  If you're not mindful when you're eating, you may have eaten 2 to 3 times more than you really needed before you realize you've had enough food.  So, eating slower can be a tool for weight loss as well.  In fact, Livestrong reported that a Japanese study revealed that eating quickly increased odds of being overweight by 84 percent for men and more than 50 percent for women.

In summary, chewing thoroughly and slowly can yield great health benefits by making nutrients more available and aiding in digestion.  In addition, it can help with long term weight loss and weight management goals.  So eat and enjoy the blessing of chewing.