Those of us of a certain age will recall being told to chew our food properly by our parents and grandparents. To some extent this may have been the result of privation and rationing during and after the second world war when kids would bolt food as fast as they could in case there was any chance of a second helping. Chewing slowly is also a great way of making a meal last longer, giving your brain time to register your stomach is full and almost certainly aiding with digestion.
Chewing can boost immunity
What you may not realise is that chewing food properly can have a more profound effect on general well-being. A recent study published in the journal Immunity suggested that mastication (another word for chewing) could actually boost the body’s immune system by stimulating the release of Th17 cells.
As the study lead from Manchester University explains, “The immune system performs a remarkable balancing act at barrier sites such as the skin, mouth and gut by fighting off harmful pathogens while tolerating the presence of normal friendly bacteria” she continues, “Our research shows that, unlike at other barriers, the mouth has a different way of stimulating Th17 cells: not by bacteria but by mastication. Therefore mastication can induce a protective immune response in our gums.”
Not necessarily good for your gums
However, the study (which was carried out on mice) isn’t all good news. There was some evidence that excessive chewing could have a detrimental effect on oral health as too many TH17 cells can result in periodontitis, or gum disease. The condition is usually marked by inflammation of the gums and a tendency for them to bleed during brushing. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms then make sure you let your dentist know.
Unchecked gum disease can result in tooth loss and potentially other medical complications such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis. If you think you might be suffering from gum problems, contact us to make an appointment at our central London specialist dental practice.