New research has shown that intensive chewing has a surprising benefit: it can increase your metabolic rate

DR MICHAEL MOSLEY: How chewing food well can keep you lean by eating less and getting nutrients

Like most of us, I guess, I remember years ago being told to chew my food at least 32 times before swallowing it.

It was an idea based on the claims of a 19th century health food guru in the United States called Horace Fletcher – also known as “The Great Masticator”, his slogan was: “Nature will chastise those who do not don’t chew”.

Why 32 times? Maybe because most adult humans have 32 teeth. Fletcher claimed to have chewed each bite 100 times and said following his approach would turn “a pitiful glutton into a clever epicurean”.

New research has shown that intensive chewing has a surprising benefit: it can increase your metabolic rate

He suggested that lots of chewing – even while consuming liquids – would not only make you stronger and fitter, but could cure alcoholism, appendicitis, inflammation of the gut and even insanity. None of this is true.

But new research has shown that intensive chewing has a surprising benefit: it can increase your metabolic rate, the amount of energy you burn at rest, by up to 15%, which is much higher than expected.

In a study conducted at the University of Manchester, 15 women and six men were asked to chew two types of tasteless gum for 15 minutes: one was soft and the other was hard. The volunteers’ total energy expenditure was carefully monitored while chewing.

Chewing is hard work.  The calorie burn impact of a little more chewing isn't huge (about like standing for about 20 minutes), but every little bit helps.

Chewing is hard work. The calorie burn impact of a little more chewing isn’t huge (about like standing for about 20 minutes), but every little bit helps.

To their surprise, the researchers found that when the volunteers chewed the softest gum, their metabolic rate increased by 10%. Gnawing the hardest gum, it increased by an even more impressive 15%.

This effect is simply due to the fact that chewing is hard work. The impact on calories burned from a little more chewing isn’t huge (about like standing for about 20 minutes), but every little bit counts.

The researchers now plan to conduct further studies, measuring the impact of chewing real foods, such as steak and nuts, on energy expenditure.

It’s not just about the energy we use when we chew: it’s also been proven that when we chew more, we eat less. In 2018, Dr. Kevin Hall of the National Institutes of Health in the United States conducted a study where 20 healthy volunteers spent four weeks in his lab where they were closely monitored.

Honey may be better than antibiotics…

We’ve known for a long time that honey can kill bad bacteria.

Indeed, Roman soldiers used it to prevent wounds from becoming septic, and recent research has shown that applying honey may be a better way to treat some wounds than antibiotics.

A study from the Australian Institute of Microbiology and Infection shows that consuming honey can also kill infection-causing bacteria in the gut, including E. coli.

And it seems to stimulate the growth of good bacteria such as Lactobacillus, which can boost the immune system and reduce the risk of viral infections.

So take it with your porridge or drizzle it over Greek yogurt and strawberries for a delicious dessert.

Honey can kill bad bacteria and even kill bacteria that cause infections in the gut, including E. coli

Honey can kill bad bacteria and even kill bacteria that cause infections in the gut, including E. coli

For the first two weeks, they were randomly assigned to either eat ultra-processed meals (the kind of convenience foods and other heavily processed foods that contain weird-sounding ingredients and come in shiny packaging) or to eat minimally processed foods (i.e. prepared from scratch).

The volunteers then swapped for the other two weeks.

To give you an idea of ​​what they were fed, an ultra-processed breakfast might be a bagel with cream cheese, while the unprocessed breakfast was porridge with bananas, nuts and milk.

All meals contained the exact same balance of calories, sugar, fiber, fat and carbohydrates. Volunteers were told they could eat as much or as little as they wanted from each meal and snacks, which were readily available.

When the volunteers ate ultra-processed foods, they consumed about 500 more calories per day and gained an average of 0.9 kg (2 lb) over two weeks.

They lost roughly the same amount when following an unprocessed diet.

Why did this happen? Dr. Hall isn’t sure (he’s doing other studies to find out), but he noticed that when volunteers were on the ultra-processed diet, they finished faster, probably because it was milder and easier to swallow without having to chew a lot. And the faster you eat, the more you eat. Fewer processed foods require more breakdown in your mouth, so you’re forced to chew more and eat more slowly.

One of the first studies to show that the faster you eat, the more you eat was published in 2008 by the University of Rhode Island.

The researchers asked 30 young women to eat a series of meals quickly or slowly. When they ate slowly, they not only ate less (579 calories vs. 645 calories), but they reported feeling fuller and more satisfied afterward.

This may be because it takes time for the food you eat to pass through your stomach and reach cells in your small intestine which release a hormone called PYY, which signals your brain that you are full. If you eat quickly and don’t stop to chew and chat, you’ll eat more before your brain tells you to stop.

In addition to burning extra calories and encouraging you to eat less, chewing more can help you extract more nutrients from your food, especially if you eat hard foods, such as nuts.

In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2009, 13 healthy adults were asked to chew a handful of almonds ten, 25, or 40 times. They underwent blood tests before and after each chewing session, and their appetites were then monitored for three hours. Poop samples were also taken.

It turned out that the more they chewed, the less hungry the volunteers were afterwards and the better their blood sugar control.

Although the exact mechanism is unclear, it was also found that the more they chewed, the less nutrients came out in their poop, suggesting that these nutrients were better absorbed.

So maybe Horace Fletcher was onto something. Having made his fortune on the lecture circuit, he died of bronchitis at the ripe old age of 69 in 1919, when the average life expectancy in the United States was only 44 years.

Simple tricks to ward off dementia

The most common cause of death in the UK is dementia and it is a condition that I, like so many people, care deeply about.

So there were shockwaves around the world with the recent announcement that a long-held theory about the causes of Alzheimer’s disease (the most common type of dementia) might not only be wrong, but based on manipulated data.

Science, a leading research journal, found “shocking and blatant” falsification of results in an influential study published in 2006.

This study had provided strong support for the theory that Alzheimer’s disease is largely caused by the buildup of a protein called amyloid in the brain, which in turn damages brain cells, leading to memory loss. and cognitive abilities.

The most common cause of death in the UK is dementia and it is a condition that I, like so many people, care deeply about.

The most common cause of death in the UK is dementia and it is a condition that I, like so many people, care deeply about.

In 2006, a University of Minnesota study in mice seemed to show a clear link between amyloid and dementia.

Pharmaceutical companies piled in – yet despite spending billions to develop drugs that targeted amyloid, there were no real successes (and some drugs even seemed to make patients worse).

The good news is that researchers are investigating other approaches, including new ways to stimulate the brain through neurogenesis – creating new brain cells.

For example, a study published last week in the Journal of Experimental Medicine found that genetic manipulation increases the production of new brain cells in mice with Alzheimer’s disease and restores memory.

The use of this technique in humans is a long way off, but another more unusual approach to neurogenesis involves spending time in a hyperbaric chamber, much like those used to treat divers with bends.

Exercise like push-ups or squats release brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a hormone that acts like fertilizer for the brain

Exercise like push-ups or squats release brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a hormone that acts like fertilizer for the brain

In a study published last year in the journal Aging, six people with an average age of 70 and all showing signs of memory loss underwent a series of sessions in a hyperbaric chamber: pressure changes and rises and falls in oxygen levels increased blood flow. to their brain by about 20%, with an average improvement of 16.5% in memory scores.

An easier way to improve blood flow to the brain is through exercise, especially push-ups or squats – these involve moving the head up and down against gravity, resulting in big changes in the blood flow.

This releases brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a hormone that acts like fertilizer for the brain.

You can also try intermittent fasting – a study from King’s College London has shown that it improves long-term memory and leads to the generation of new brain cells in mice.

Another established approach to growing new brain cells is to challenge your brain by taking up a hobby like learning a new language, painting, or dancing.

DR MICHAEL MOSLEY: How chewing food well can keep you lean by eating less and getting nutrients

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