Chewing Your Food Can Help You Absorb More Nutrients, Says An MD

mbg Intern By Olivia Giacomo
mbg Intern
Olivia Giacomo is a mindbodygreen intern and a student at Georgetown University studying French and Spanish. She has previously written for LLM Law Review.
Woman Eating Fruit While Sitting In A Hammock

It might surprise you that not only what you eat but also how you eat it can have a major impact on the nutritional yield. But that's exactly what psychiatrist Drew Ramsey, M.D., shared with co-founder and co-CEO Jason Wachob on the mbg podcast. He explained that the manner in which you chew affects the benefits you receive from your food. 

The connection between chewing and nutrient intake.

How we eat is a major piece of the puzzle when it comes to health. Ramsey states that our mental state affects the way in which we eat, and anxiousness often results in less chewing before we swallow. 

When you reduce the amount of time you spend chewing your food, the enzymes in your gut that break it down end up with less surface area to work with. This means that your body is left with a reduced capacity to absorb nutrients. Ramsey emphasizes that "you really...increase the efficiency and the nutrient density of your food by...eating it properly and chewing." 

In addition to how much you chew, your mental state affects the amount of nutrients you receive from your food; when your mind is experiencing stress, for example, it can disrupt the communication between the brain and digestive system. This means that if you eat while experiencing negative feelings, you might absorb only 20% of your food's nutrients.

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So, how do you approach mealtime with the right mindset?

Ramsey offered a way to turn mealtime into an opportunity for mindfulness: "Really focus on being present at the table with those you love and with your food." Studies show that mindfulness not only increases well-being but can bolster your ability to support those around you.

The takeaway.

When it comes to nutrient absorption, how we eat can be just as influential as what we eat. Practicing mindfulness is one way to give your body the chance to slow down and fully experience mealtime, whether it be on your own or with those you love.

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