11 October 11 Chew More, Eat Less, Weigh Less?

Two studies were published this year on mastication and its relationship to how much we eat. Mastication is the process by which we use our teeth to crush and grind food. It is also the first step of digestion and what allows enzymes to break down our food more efficiently.

In the late 19th century, Horace Fletcher, an American health-food faddist once dubbed as "The Great Masticator," came up with a method for chewing food named (aptly), "Fletcherizing," which required a person to chew his or her food thirty-two times for each bite, or once for every tooth the person had. Part of "Fletcherizing" also included waiting until one was "good and hungry" before eating. Fletcher believe that by using these methods people could lose weight or even cure diseases like gout, boils and eczema, and he became a millionaire promoting his theories. A few notable celebrities of the time were known to have tried it, including Upton Sinclair, John D. Rockefeller and Henry James. By the time Fletcher died in 1919, however, his theory of masticating was already losing ground to a weight loss concept developed by Irving Fisher and Eugene Lyman Fisk - which was calorie counting.

One of the two studies published earlier this year in Appetite was specifically inspired by Horace Fletcher's work. In this study, Dr. Hendrik Smit compared the effects of chewing food 35 times instead of 10 chews per mouthful. What he found was that even though the average time it took to finish a meal (or for the participant to "feel full") nearly doubled, those who chewed their bites 35 times consumed 12% less food than those who only chewed 10 times.

Another study from Harbin Medical University in China, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looked at 30 young men and compared how much they ate at breakfast when chewing 40 times per bite instead of 10 times. In this study, again participants consumed nearly 12% less calories during the meal when they chewed 40 times per bite. The researchers in this study also found a correlation between the amount of chewing and levels of several hormones that tell the brain when to start and stop eating. There were no links found in this study, though, between chewing duration and blood sugar or insulin levels.

Commenting on this particular study, Adam Drewnowski, the Director of the University of Washington Center for Obesity Research, said that if the average person cuts his or her calorie intake by 12%, that person would lose nearly 25 pounds in one year. He also added caution that not all calories people consume require chewing, such as ice cream, soups and beverages, so the actual amount of weight one loses would vary and that prolonged mastication is likely not a viable obesity prevention measure.

Neither study claimed to provide a definitive validation for increasing chewing duration, and both admitted to their small sample sizes. However, each of the studies believed that their results should spark new and greater interest in the topic.

What do you think? Have you ever paid attention to your chewing duration and did it help? The sandwich-chain, Subway, launched an interesting "Mastication Masterclass" campaign through its UK stores last year.

Ryan Newhouse

Ryan Newhouse is the Marketing Director for MyNetDiary and writes for a variety of publications. He wants you to check out MyNetDiary on Instagram!

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Weight Loss/Behavior

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