A couple of new studies seem to confirm what has been rumored in the past - that chewing is more than just a mechanical process necessary for satisfying hunger and filling our bellies.
The first study involves gum. And yes, it was funded by Wrigley, but it was done at Baylor University and seems to be legitimate. We’ve all heard that chewing gum may be a good dieting strategy because it can keep you from putting, other, more fattening things in your mouth. But the study seems to prove that it’s not just an issue of keeping the mouth busy, chewing gum seems to actually remove your craving for snacks.
Here’s what they did: Investigators at Louisiana State University took 115 people who regularly chewed gum and fed them lunch. They measured their cravings before and after lunch. Those subjects who chewed gum three times hourly after lunch, ate fewer high-calorie snacks. The chewers also reported decreased feelings of hunger and cravings for sweet foods. Obviously, gum is sweet, so this could be enough to satisfy the sweet tooth that would otherwise make you go on a Hostess binge.
According to Paula Geiselman, Ph.D, lead researcher and physiological psychologist, ”We decreased overall snack intake by 40 to 60 calories. Having something in the mouth likely calms the appetite.”
Another chewing study involving almonds, not gum, and seems to go even further into the science behind chewing food longer. The study examined how chewing almonds may impact physiology including appetite and hunger, hormone response and the efficiency of fat absorption. It showed that those who chewed two ounces of almonds longer, 25 or 40 times before swallowing, absorbed significantly more good, unsaturated fat, than those who chewed the almonds only 10 times before swallowing.
The study also measured the effects on hormones and hunger. Increased fat in the small intestine often stimulates secretion of several hormones associated with feelings of fullness. Researchers measured these hormones and also required participants to fill out an appetite questionnaire before and after eating almonds. Although overall there were only significant effects on the hormone insulin, subjects who chewed almonds a greater number of times, reported feeling significantly less hungry and more full than when they chewed the almonds less.
“This new almond research indicates that chewing more thoroughly may increase the availability of unsaturated fat and previous research suggests smaller particle size also impacts the availability of other nutrients present in the fat, like vitamin E, to the body,” explained study author Richard Mattes, PhD, RD, at Purdue University. “These findings also emphasize the importance of examining chewing in the context of a weight management plan because participants reported their hunger was suppressed and their fullness was enhanced as a result of increased chewing of the almonds.”
This new study builds on research commissioned by the Almond Board of California and published in 2008 that found thoroughly chewing almonds resulted in an increased release of good, unsaturated fats, and vitamin E.
This gives new meaning to Almond Joy! Happy chewing, everyone!