Why You Should Chew Your Food a Little Longer

Physical texture of food upon swallowing impacts digestion, nutrient absorption

This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.

A modest portion of grass-fed red meat is a nutrient-packed way to meet your protein needs, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s often delicious. But how many times do you chew your food when it’s especially tantalizing and full of flavor? Does it matter? If we scarf down our food too quickly, are we really missing out on important nutrients?

Perhaps.

According to one recent study, there is evidence suggesting that the state and texture of our food upon swallowing can have a big impact on how it behaves in our bodies. The study found that minced beef was more easily digested — and the nutrients better absorbed — than beef steak, ultimately leading to improved nutrient status and health.

Researchers working out of the Netherlands designed a study to test the characteristics of beef absorption in older men. They tested a group of 10 men with an average age of 74 years, who consumed the same type of beef in either beef steak or minced beef form. The men were then assessed during the postprandial period — the time period after which meals are consumed — in order to evaluate their digestion rate, amino acid availability and protein balance.

The study showed that protein appeared more rapidly in circulation after consuming minced beef, and that it was more widely available in circulation throughout the six-hour postprandial period, with an estimated rate of 61% availability compared to 49% in beef steak. Moreover, the entire body’s protein balance was significantly more positive after consuming minced beef versus beef steak. As a whole, the men in the study displayed significantly improved digestive performance after eating minced beef.

The results, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, revealed enhanced digestion of minced beef, indicating that the physical texture and condition of food upon swallowing does in fact impact the nature of its digestion.

The Lesson? Chew Your Food!

The findings of this study reveal and reinforce an underappreciated notion in health: the texture of your food upon swallowing makes a difference. Based on the findings of this study, one can extrapolate that it is important to thoroughly chew food for better digestion and greater nutrient absorption, regardless of age. Furthermore, as we age and our chewing capacity is decreased, consuming foods in easier-to-digest forms becomes increasingly important.

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