Something to Chew On

Eating slowly and chewing less decreased blood sugar

We were all told as children to chew each bite 30 times or some variation close to that number. Well, that might not be the best advice after all.

A study from the A*STAR Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences found that eating slower and chewing fewer times released less sugar into the bloodstream than quick and continuous chewing.

When the blood sugar level surges it can increase the risk of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Individuals vary in their response to food, but how they eat apparently is also a factor.

A previous study by the same researchers found that blood sugar levels were lower when study subjects used chopsticks rather than a spoon to eat white rice.

Asian man eating lunch; chopsticks in right hand, bowl of food in left handChristiani Jeyakumar Henry, PhD, Yung Seng Lee, MD, and Verena Tan, PhD led the study of 75 healthy Asian men.

Dr. Henry is the director of the Clinical Nutritional Research Centre at the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, Dr. Lee is a pediatric endocrinologist and Dr. Tan is a dietitian.

“The old wives’ tale to chew and chew and chew like a cow is actually counterproductive when it comes to glycemic response,” Dr. Henry said in a press release.

Each man in the study was served a bowl of either basmati or jasmine rice. Both are a type of long-grain rice.

The scientists studied the frequency of each mouthful, how long the men chewed, saliva content and how long it took food to clear the stomach. In addition, the scientists collected blood samples and saliva swabs before and after each meal.

The researchers found that fewer bites per mouthful, at a slower chewing rate, resulted in lower blood sugar levels. The researchers noted that this study is specific to only the rice and recommend further studies to confirm links between chewing and blood glucose for other foods.

“These results are gratifying because chewing time and frequency are behaviors that we can consciously change,” Dr. Lee said in the press release.

The study was published in the July issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Information on funding and conflict of interest was not available.


European Journal of Nutrition, “The role of digestive factors in determining glycemic response in a multiethnic Asian population”

MedicalXpress, “Chewing habits determine blood sugar levels after a carbohydrate-rich meal”