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Five Reasons to Masticate More

Amidst the bountiful holiday feasts, featuring roasts of all sorts, rich desserts, and endless finger foods to pick at, let's remember to chew more. It's easy to forget when we want to stuff our faces and try everything. Here's five good reasons to do so.

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1. You'll get full when you're actually full. Often we eat too quickly to realize that we've had more than our stomachs can handle.

2. Chewing improves digestion. This means you'll get more nutrients out of the food, less gas and no bloating. Undigested food particles are a waste of food and also excellent breeding ground for bacteria.

3. Digestion starts in your mouth. Salivary amylase, an enzyme produced in your mouth, starts to break starches down into sugars. Thus, smoothies and soups should be chewed, not drank.

4. Decrease your stress by eating slower. We are often in such a rush that the act of eating food seems to be a waste of time. Eating is a great time to practice mindfulness. Turn off the TV, sit down, and taste your food.

5. You'll lose or maintain your weight. Our bodies do a good job of helping us stay at normal weight levels and body fat percentages, if we let them. We've short-circuited our feedback systems with super high sugar foods, with little to no nutritional value. Combine this with the fast paced society of quick meals and eat-on-the-go, and we can no longer keep our weight in check.

The challenge: chew each mouthful at least 30 times (centenarian communities all have the act of diligent mastication in common). Taste the flavours and develop a better appreciation for what you eat.

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