- 1 Section A
- 2 New Evidence Shows that Fast Eating Promotes serious Diseases and nefarious Gastrointestinal Conditions
- 3 Section B
- 4 Mechanisms that explain why Fast Eating is Bad
- 5 Chew More Eat Less
- 6 Section C
- 7 The Art of Mindful and Joyful Eating: the French Mediterranean Example
- 8 Conclusion
- 9 Reference and Precision Notes
Eating is a sacred process that requires due diligence. In this article-blog, I will review the evidence that confirms the deleterious effects of eating under stressful conditions (Section A). Thereafter, I will invoke a few mechanisms that account for this relationship between fast eating and diseases (Section B) and conclude with the French example of “slow” happy eating. (Section C).
New Evidence Shows that Fast Eating Promotes serious Diseases and nefarious Gastrointestinal Conditions
A new study shows that the habit of “shoveling in” one bite after another may promotes “big three” cardiometabolic conditions: heart disease, diabetes and stroke, and what’s known as a “cluster” of five risk factors. Medical News Today lists them. These are as follows: High blood pressure, high triglycerides (the fats found in the blood), high fasting blood sugar, low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and a large waistline. (1)
The results of a new study, recently presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2017, held in Anaheim, CA, suggest that gobbling down your food may seriously harm one’s cardiometabolic health. The study authors conclude:
“Eating speed was associated with obesity and future prevalence of metabolic syndrome. Eating slowly may therefore […] be a crucial lifestyle factor for preventing metabolic syndrome among the Japanese.” (Source)
Dr. Yamaji comments on the findings, saying, “Eating more slowly may be a crucial lifestyle change to help prevent metabolic syndrome […] When people eat fast they tend not to feel full and are more likely to overeat.” In effect, eating fast causes bigger glucose fluctuation, which can lead to insulin resistance.
Obesity plays straight into the hands of metabolic syndrome, and more people than ever are developing the above risk factors. In fact, 34 percent of adults in the U.S. have three of the five cluster risks. (Source) (2)
Cardiologist Takayuki Yamaji from Hiroshima University in Japan was the lead author of the study, which involved nearly 1,100 generally healthy male and female participants over five years, the average being around 51 years of age. Study subjects were divided into three groups, each categorizing themselves as slow, normal or fast eaters.
The results showed a two-times higher likelihood fast eaters would develop metabolic symptoms compared to their slower-eating cohorts, with a spread of a 2.3 percent likelihood for slow eaters and an 11.6 percent chance for the fastest ones.
The study concluded by saying, “Eating speed was associated with obesity and future prevalence of metabolic syndrome. Eating slowly may therefore … be a crucial lifestyle factor for preventing metabolic syndrome among the Japanese.” (3)
The Economic Times November 16, 2017, quoting Yamaji, reported that:
“Eating more slowly may be a crucial lifestyle change to help prevent metabolic syndrome … When people eat fast they tend not to feel full and are more likely to overeat. Eating fast causes bigger glucose fluctuation, which can lead to insulin resistance. We also believe our research would apply to a U.S. population.” (4)
Mechanisms that explain why Fast Eating is Bad
Chewing slowly helps with the mastication-digestion process, that which starts in your mouth where the saliva’s enzymes are, including, but not limited to lingual lipase that helps break down fats. The longer one chews, the more time those enzymes have to start breaking down food. The process makes digestion easier on your stomach and small intestine. In this perspective, a study demonstrated that when the cohort participants ate almonds quickly and chewed less (10 times, as opposed to 25 times or 40 times per bite), their bodies failed to take in all the considerable nutrients almonds have to offer; the bits simply passed through and were eliminated. For those who chewed the most, the particles, hence the nutrition, were absorbed faster.
“Particle size has bioaccessibility of the energy of the food that is being consumed,” said Dr. Richard Mattes (CQ), professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind. “ he more you chew, the less is lost and more is retained in the body.” (5)
Counting how many bites of food you take when eating has also been shown to make a digestive and weight managment difference. In yet another study, reduced the number of bites they took in their meals by 20 percent to 30 percent. According to The New York Times, (6) altogether, the study subjects lost an average of 3.5 pounds. (7)
Chew More Eat Less
The data also corroborates what many have intuitively known, that chewing more at a slower pace quenches appetite better and promotes better assimilation (Source). When the researchers compared the difference in food consumption between the quickly eaten lunch and the slowly eaten lunch, here is what they found: When eating quickly the women consumed 646 calories in 9 minutes. When eating slowly the women consumed 579 calories in 29 minutes. (8) (Source)
The claim that it takes your brain 20 to 30 minutes to realize your stomach is already full is also true, it turns out. As Harvard Health explains, scientists will tell you that a feeling of fullness is only part of the reason why you feel satisfied after a meal. Your brain is engaged in the process, too, as it needs to get the message sent by your digestive hormones secreted by your gastrointestinal tract.
In this realm, stretch receptors in the stomach are activated as it fills with food or water; these signal the brain directly through the vagus nerve that connects gut and brainstem. Hormonal signals are released as partially digested food enters the small intestine.
One example is cholecystokinin (CCK), released by the intestines in response to food consumed during a meal. Another hormone, leptin, produced by fat cells, is an adiposity signal that communicates with the brain about long-range needs and satiety, based on the body’s energy stores. Research suggests that leptin amplifies the CCK signals, to enhance the feeling of fullness.Other research suggests that leptin also interacts with the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain to produce a feeling of pleasure after eating. The theory is that, by eating too quickly, people may not give this intricate hormonal cross-talk system enough time to work.” (9)
There are even studies confirming that increasing the number of times you chew each bite may reduce how much you end up eating by almost 15 percent.
The Art of Mindful and Joyful Eating: the French Mediterranean Example
In my Gascon and Mediterranean culture, most of us are nurtured to eat with happiness. That’s one reason eating alone is usually discouraged. Being with friends and family will upregulate those happiness neuropeptides, which helps to body to shift from the sympathetic overdrive, when the gastric juices dont secrete much, to the parasympathic relaxed state when the body’s intelligences maximizes the gastric juice secretions upon encountering glorious food.
However eating with whomever in a state of heated discussion or tensions is not healthy. In Mindful and Joyful eating, talk is kept to a minimum, usually used just to express one’s happiness with the food and the people around the table. Mindful appreciation of all of what goes down the “gosier” (esophagus) is recommended, in the midst of a calm and beautiful area, with lots of smelling and chewing of one’s tasty and fresh food.
In France, a predominantly Catholic country, there is the tradition to turn off the television set and other sources of noise like the cell phone and say a prayer of gratitute for the food that is to be downed. And then, we say “Bon appétit” those magic words that whisper to thy’s gastric juice that’s it’s time for another delicious culinary symphony of gastric juice secretion.
Rushing through to get food down the esophagus isn’t conducive to proper digestion nor health. If one has difficulty slowing down when eating, food experts recommend chewing 32 times as one counts each chew. Creating a calm environment with minimal distractions and putting down one’s utensils between bites are ways one can mindfully approach eating more slowly.
To conclude, I can’t help but to remind the Viewer that in terms of comparative anatomy, with this above mentioned study, more evidence is piling showing that we humans are essentially plant-based mammals. Carnivores don’t chew their food. And they eat fast.
Christian Joubert (HMI director and CSO)