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“Chew your food at least 32 times before swallowing” is a theory we have all grown up listening to. Since childhood, all our parents and grandparents made sure we took enough time to chew each morsel of food and have our meals peacefully. Have you ever wondered why this practice became so popular? Or, why do people stress the number 32? While some say it is a far-fetched lore, some claim it to be just another of the thousands of food myths doing the rounds. In this article, we will delve deep into the topic to separate the facts from fiction. So stay back and read through the article to bust your confusion once and for all.

Also Read: 5 Ways To Practise Mindful Eating When Dining Out To Manage Blood Sugar

Why Is It Important To Chew Your Food Well?

Let’s start with understanding what chewing your food means. It is the process of mastication, where you break down the food into smaller particles, which further get mixed with the saliva and are passed to the stomach for further processing. In other words, the process of digesting your food starts from your mouth, with the function of mastication. According to the book Diet and Nutrition: A Holistic Approach by Rudolph Ballentine, “The mouth is more than merely the opening into the alimentary canal. It performs an indispensable part of the digestive process.”

Consultant nutritionist Rupali Datta weighs in, “There are basically two major reasons why people stress chewing your food well. First, it helps break down the food into smaller particles and second, it helps get mixed with saliva, a key to promote the process of digestion.”

Also Read: Mindful Eating: A Relaxing Approach For Your Journey To Good Health

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Is It Really Important To Chew Your Food 32 Times?

Now that we know how important it is to chew your food for proper digestion, it is also important to find out the mystery behind the number 32.

Dr. Richa Garg, on her website Arogyam Nutrition, explains that in India, the tradition of chewing food 32 times is linked to the number of teeth we have. In other words, it simply means chewing 32 times is chewing food once with each tooth. This number is just given for a fair idea to establish an easy gut-brain connection for better digestion. Chewing your food slowly not only breaks down the food more efficiently but also gives enough time to your brain to send out signals to your gut to release digestive juices and enzymes.

Horace Fletcher, an American health food enthusiast of the Victorian era, is often credited for bringing up the concept of chewing food 32 times. Though this number is just to etch the importance of chewing into our memory, the fact remains that the process of chewing does have several nutritional, biological, and health benefits. However, experts also state that the number may vary from food to food. While the harder ones like nuts may take more time to chew, softer ones like watermelon require fewer chews to break down.

So we say, take enough time to enjoy your meals and engage all your senses to make the most of the nutrients you get from your food. Eat mindfully and stay healthy!

Meanwhile, click here to understand the benefits of chewing your food properly.

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.