How Many Times to Chew Your Food [11 Ways to Improve Digestion]

Written by Nikki Lyn Pugh

Reading Time: 9 minutes

You probably heard it a thousand times from an adult family member at the dinner table: “Slow down and chew your food!” Odds are, as a kid, you probably didn’t listen to them. But it turns out that those pesky adults were offering some sage advice when it comes to how to get the most from food nutrients as well as how to avoid the “gastric upset” that effects a whopping 70 million people worldwide.

Chew Your Food: The First Step in Digestion

Why is chewing your food so important for digestion anyways? After all, that’s why we have stomach acid, right? Actually, the act of digestion – a process that our bodies do automatically – is a very complex process. Step one is to chew your food.

The importance of proper chewing is two-fold. First of all, when chewing food, you break down large food particles into smaller ones so they can be digested more easily by the rest of the system and so your body can extract the most nutrients from them. Coated with lubricating saliva, small bits can more easily make their way down the esophagus and into the small intestine.

The smaller the particles you swallow, the more your small intestine can absorb nutrients from them as they make their way down.

In fact, when you do not chew your food enough, some may go undigested. This can be a major problem since parts of this undigested food may eventually enter your bloodstream through small gaps that may exist between the enterocyte cells of the gut lining.

Experts in the gut-immune connection have been making the link for years between “Leaky Gut” (the presence of these gaps) and a whole host of disease conditions, including autoimmune disease, which currently affects one in five Americans.

Large particles that move slowly down the digestive tract also become fuel for pathogenic (“bad”) bacteria and fungi. The longer food particles lingers, the more they have the possibility to become catalysts for putrification, which can produce neurotoxins in the gut.

The second advantage of chewing your food thoroughly is that salivary glands are activated in your mouth when you chew. Saliva contains important digestive enzymes such as lingual lipase, which breaks down fats, and amylase, beneficial in breaking down sugars. When you chew for longer, these enzymes have the time to do their job.

Dr. Richard Mattes, professor of nutrition at Purdue University and author of a 2013 study on the subject, says that chewing your food more can even give you more energy:

“Particle size [affects the] bioaccessibility of the energy of the food that is being consumed. The more you chew, the less is lost and more is retained in the body.”

Do You Know How To Chew?

How Many Times Should You Chew Your Food Before Swallowing?

So, just how many times should you chew your food? It turns out there’s not one number for every food, and it really depends on what you are eating. A piece of steak needs to be chewed far longer than a bite of watermelon, for example.

However, if weight loss is a goal, a recent Chinese study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently reported that a person needs to chew food at least 40 times per bite. Most experts say to simply chew your food until it has lost all its texture or liquified in the mouth.

11 Do’s & Don’ts for Getting the Best Digestion” to “How To Improve Digestion – 11 Tips

Chewing your food properly is by far the most important action you can take to improve your digestion right now.

Here are 11 other “Do’s” and “Don’ts” that will help make mealtime a pleasure, not a pain:

#1. DON’T drink lots of water with a meal or right after.

Taking sips of a beverage is fine during a meal but try to keep it to a minimum. Consuming lots of liquids while eating or right after a meal can adversely affect the digestive process by diluting vital digestive enzymes and stomach acid that help to break down food.

#2. DON’T have a cup of coffee right after a meal.

Experts are split as to how caffeine can affect digestion both positively and negatively. Caffeine is a diuretic, so coffee can speed up digestion. Sometimes a little cup of joe can be helpful if you need a little help “getting things moving.” On the other hand, if you drink too much coffee immediately after a meal, it may speed up digestion so much that your body does not have time to extract all the nutrients it can from the food you just ate.

Coffee is also highly acidic. If consumed during a meal or right after it, it can lead to heartburn for sensitive individuals. If you crave a hot beverage after a full meal, try a cup of green or herbal tea instead.

#3. DON’T eat a lot of fruit or processed sweets directly after a meal.

A little fruit after a meal may beneficial if you do not have a sensitivity. But fruit in general is digested very fast by the body. If you consume a lot of it right after a meal, then it may sit on top of the other foods you just ate and ferment, which can cause bloating, gas, and pain.

In addition, eating processed deserts like cakes or ice cream and high-sugar beverages like sodas may make it harder to normalize blood sugar levels, which is your body’s main objective right after a meal. If you must have a sweet after you eat, try a small piece of fruit or a small square of dark chocolate.

#4. DON’T participate in strenuous exercise right after eating a big meal.

The body’s main objective after a meal is to channel the most amount of blood it can into the gastro-intestinal tract via the circulatory system to facilitate digestion. Vigorous exercise directly after a meal can bring this process to a halt. This may not only affect digestion, but bloodflow within the circulatory system as well.

#5. DON’T take a hot shower or bath right after eating.

According to popular nutrition expert Kimberly Snyder, CN, when you take a hot bath or shower, your body temperature naturally increases. When this happens, the blood that would normally be used to aid in digestion will instead be pulled towards the skin and extremities for core temperature regulation. This will slow digestion down.

#6. DON’T go to sleep right after eating.

Again, this is because of blood sugar, which tends to spike after a meal. The body will need a few hours after eating to normalize blood sugar levels. Sleeping may increase insulin dependence. In fact, some experts warn that getting into the habit of taking a “siesta” right after eating could promote insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.

#7. DO consume gut-friendly fermented foods with every meal.

Eating fermented foods with your meal can actually help your body digest. This is because foods like raw sauerkraut have the first part of digestion covered; they already contain a hearty number of digestive enzymes as well as a plethora of beneficial bacteria that can help your body absorb essential nutrients.

Eating fermented foods and taking fermented supplements can also help reduce symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, gluten intolerance, and allergies/asthma by boosting the immune system.

#8. DO have veggies with every meal.

The first reason why this is important is a no- brainer. The more green leafy and other kinds of low-starch veggies you eat in general, the better – and meals are a great way to get one or two servings of organic steamed broccoli or green salad in during the day.

Also, vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals and are able to complement any kind of meal, whether it is protein-rich or carb-rich. The most important factor about vegetables for digestion is that raw or slightly steamed veggies can retain their enzyme and fiber content, which helps everything move along and the most amount of nutrients be absorbed.

According to Dr. Mattes, “When your total diet is higher in fiber, there’s a greater loss of fat. Fiber binds with fatty acids to create energy sources in the body.”

#9. DO take a leisurely stroll after a meal.

While vigorous exercise may hurt the digestive process, research confirms that a short stroll after a meal can aid digestion and normalize blood sugar levels. A 2009 study conducted by researchers at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, found that a 20-minute walk about ten to fifteen minutes after dinner helped Type 2 diabetics regulate their blood sugar levels.

Another study published in the journal of the American Diabetes Association found that for overweight and normally sedentary older adults, a 15-minute walk after each meal helped to regulate blood sugar levels better than a 45-minute walk first thing in the morning.

#10. DO use probiotics and digestive enzymes.

These days, because of lifestyle, toxins and overall stress, almost everyone has some sort of gut bacteria imbalance that can periodically cause mild to moderate discomfort. And for thousands of people, infusing good nutritional and mealtime habits into one’s life is not enough to right the imbalance that may lead to other disease conditions.

Many experts suggest that daily probiotic intake is as important in this toxic, stress-filled world as drinking enough quality water. Probiotics are beneficial for those over 60, for women in general, and an absolute must for those who are on the journey of healing digestive conditions. This is because they infuse the body with millions of beneficial bacteria that are vital for restoring balance over time.

Supplementation with digestive enzymes is also a must if you are dealing with Leaky Gut, you eat a lot of cooked or processed foods, or you are over 30 years of age. Remember that without enzymes, dozens of other mechanisms in the body – including the absorption of key nutrients – cannot occur.

The best way to incorporate digestive enzymes into your daily routine is to find a source that is organic, of high quality and contains several enzymes in one easy-to-take supplement.

#11. DO S-L-O-W down when you eat.

This may go without saying; if you are chewing your food properly, this automatically helps you to slow down while eating. But slowing down in general at mealtime has its own advantages as well.

First, you can enjoy your food and the experience you are having while eating more. Unplugging from work, TV, and electronic devices and choosing to spend a few minutes focused solely on eating can also help to slow your whole body down, potentially putting it in to a healing mode through eliciting the “relaxation response.”

A good strategy to follow for slowing down while eating is to take smaller bites of food and deliberately chew in a slow and steady way, taking time to savor the flavors and textures of the foods you are eating.

It’s amazing how sometimes the simplest of actions can produce the most significant results over time. Just like mom said, chewing your food properly has many cascading benefits for digestion. But this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to actions you can take to help your body’s digestive processes.

If you, like so many others, suffer when you eat with bloating, cramping, heartburn and overall pain, you may benefit by adding some or all of these tips to your next mealtime experience.

Organixx Enzyme 17 contains a whopping FIVE kinds of powerful protease enzymes in combination with one of the most advanced enzyme blends on the planet. It’s scientifically designed to help your body break down and process nutrients for better absorption, digestion, and overall health.

Organixx Enzyme 17
Nikki Lyn Pugh
Nikki Lyn Pugh, MFA, INHC is a natural health researcher and writer. She is also an integrative nutritional health coach specializing in autoimmune conditions, chronic stress, and energy medicine. She loves to inspire people to become empowered with their health through education and gentle guidance. Nikki lives and works in Cottonwood, AZ, with her bunny "Mr. Dot."

Article Summary

  • The act of digestion is a very complex process. Chewing your food properly is the most important action you can take to improve your digestion right now.

  • The smaller the food particles you swallow, the more your small intestine can absorb nutrients.

  • Large (unchewed) particles that move slowly down the digestive tract become fuel for pathogenic (“bad”) bacteria and fungi.

  • Saliva contains important digestive enzymes. When you chew for longer, these enzymes have the time to do their job.

  • 11 other Do’s & Don’ts for improved digestion are:

    1. DON’T drink lots of water with a meal or right after
    2. DON’T have a cup of coffee right after a meal
    3. DON’T eat a lot of fruit or processed sweets directly after a meal
    4. DON’T participate in strenuous exercise right after eating a big meal
    5. DON’T take a hot shower or bath right after eating
    6. DON’T go to sleep right after eating
    7. DO consume gut-friendly fermented foods with every meal
    8. DO have veggies with every meal
    9. DO take a leisurely stroll after a meal
    10. DO use probiotics and digestive enzymes
    11. DO S-L-O-W down when you eat

Reader Interactions


  1. Excellent reminders of things we either know inutitivly or remember from the family table. All, very important. I have always done most of these. Consequently, when eating with friends, I am the last to finish. Everyone ready to order dessert, which I don’t have.
    Other than some foot tapping and staring, I’m ok with it. The only one in my circle without IBS, reflux, etc. Hope everyone listens.

  2. Thank you for the great articles. Would you please change the way you provide sources at the end of the articles, so that they can be copied along with the article. At present it is impossible to copy them.

  3. When is a good time to eat gut friendly fermented food? Is there a specific point in time of the meal ? ie before start of main course , during or after?

  4. There is a little down arrow next to the word sources, it you click it the sources come down and then you can copy the whole article. Not sure you knew this!

  5. It should be mentioned that the first stage of digestion is mental: looking at the food,smelling the food, being thankful for the food, all prepare for proper digestion. This was a wonderful reminder. Great article.

  6. I’ve always told my kids to liquefy their food before swallowing it.
    It could be 10 chews or it may require 100, but instructions are not vague.
    Liquefy your food by chewing it. Or.. but it in a blender and slowly enjoy it.

    Yes, these will help a lot.
    I and my family will surely apply this method.
    Always be good to your stomach.

  8. During the 2017 live seminar you showed a DELICIOUS soup recipe with a lot of fresh veggies put into a blender. It was supposed to be on the website but can’t find it. Please post it.

  9. This article was well put together and most needed since we spend a good part of our life eating.
    As a certified nutritionalist, I find it’s bad enough that clients make poor food choices especially when they lack the knowledge of proper food combining ie avoid eating fruit after meals unless pineapple or papaya which can help with digestion. Avoid protein with starchy carbs such as meat and potatoes or spaghetti and meatballs should be replaced with veggies .
    I know that’s not the Norm! Yet most ideal!
    I always suggest digestive enzymes prior to any cooked meals that have already lost most their enzymes after being cooked in heat and after a meal take hydrochloric acid capsules since as we age the body makes less of it , making it even harder to break down food and properly absorb it.
    If you don’t have these handy then end your meal with a celery stick or dark green salad even though the norm is to eat it before a meal as an appetizer.
    From there remember to eat mindfully by acknowledging each morsel, being grateful and thankful for what your eating and eat with pleasant people who lift your spirits since eating in a sressful environment will stress your digestive system and contract your digestive muscles which will cause you all kinds of long term health issues. So HAPPY AND SLOW IS THE WAY TO GO!? Anna Leah

  10. Thank you for the reminders.I also agree with one of the readers , “….be thankful for the food”. A thankful state of mind would be helpful for a lot of things including digestion. ( for example, say a brief prayer from a sincere heart to thank the Creater who provides and the hands who prepare the food.)

  11. It was either gulp it down get out of the mess tent or give SGT 50 push-ups. I’ll try to slow down.

    • Thank you, Jerome Dubis for your service! Do the best you can, with what you have , where you are, today! God Bless!

  12. I just have one question. My father has 73 years, quite healthy. He takes pills for high pressure and pills for thickening blood. The problem is that he often has diarea, it has been more often when he started with those pills for blood thickening. Would it be good for him to take OrganiZimes? Thank you for your answer and big hug from Europe 😉

  13. How we forget something so simple as chewing our food completely. This a wonderful reminder that I will implement today.

  14. How about soups where ingredients like celery and carrots and just about anything else is softened after boiling it that all icontents are generally falling apart and disintergrating with each spoonful when in the mouth? Common sense tells me to chew meats or any substance that normally requires chewing. I have to chew leafy vegetables like lettuce and kale many times over or it just won’t go down well but soup? My wife insists that i chew even soup that literally disintergrates with each spoonful and it simply does not feel normal to keep chewing it 40 times over.

  15. May I simply just say what a relief to discover someone that actually knows what they are talking about online. You actually know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. A lot more people ought to look at this and understand this side of the story. It’s surprising you aren’t more popular given that you definitely possess the gift.

  16. Great suggestions. Thank you so much for such a nice piece of writing.
    You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the finest sites on the internet. I will recommend this website!
    An intriguing discussion is worth comment. I think that you ought to publish more on this subject matter, it might not be a taboo matter but generally, people don’t discuss these issues. To the next! Kind regards!!

  17. What a timely bit now! Thank you a lot for this good post.
    How did you find so many facts? I like the way you organize everything, since it’s really simple to read.
    All in all, I can recommend this guide to everyone who is interested in that topic.

    • We’re glad you enjoyed it, Erich. Thank you so much for your feedback.

      We absolutely love to provide valuable information to our viewers as our mission is to empower you organically. Be sure to share with friends and family.

      Thank you so much for being part of the Organixx community. We hope you have a wonderful day.

    • You’re most welcome, Troy. Thank you for your feedback. We’re glad to hear that you found the following article valuable.

      We always try to provide very informative, helpful and honest content for all of our viewers. Our mission is to empower you organically.

      Be sure to share it with friends and family.

      Thank you for being here with us. We hope you have a great day!

  18. Thanks for creating high-quality content. There’s so much info and much more
    advertising online it is truly tough to locate worthy and appropriate info.
    These days, nobody visits libraries where you can find
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    • You’re most welcome, Carolyn. We’re glad you enjoyed it. Thank you so much for your positive feedback.

      Yes, we couldn’t agree with you more. Everything is basically online these days. You do need to be cautious in regards to where the information is coming from as it may not always reputable.

      We are happy to hear that you found value in the following article. Be sure to share it with your friends and family.

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    • Thank you for your feedback, Elizabeth. Glad you enjoyed this article and how the information was put together.

      We appreciate you being here with us and hope you have a wonderful day!!

  19. I like the way you present and maintain all of the details as well as your
    general writing style. From time to time, there’s a shortage of time
    to study lengthy bits, but is short and concise, I spent only a couple of minutes to read the whole article.
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    • Glad you enjoyed this article. We certainly appreciate your feedback, Virgilio.

      Thank you so much for being part of the Organixx community. We hope you have a lovely day!

  20. What makes your enzymes , ORGANIXX , so helpful. I mean I’ve been taking enzymes for over 20 years. and know a few things about them.

  21. Thanks for good sound advice. I simply love your articles. I always order a cup of hot water with a piece of lemon with my meal, never anything cold. Really helps. Another tip that works … divide the tummy in 3 parts. 1/3 rd food .1/3 rd water 1/3rd air. Stop before you full. God bless you all for the good work you do. Fatima (South Africa )

    • Hi Fatima, thank you for your feedback. We are so pleased to hear that we have wonderful readers all the way from South Africa. Thank you so much for being here with us!

      We appreciate the tips you shared on your eating habits. We’re sure a lot of our readers will find it interesting.

      We would love to see more of you in our blog and we wish you the best!

  22. Chewing is also what activates the production of stomach acid. This is why chewing gum is so bad for you. (besides the fact that it is made from plastic with a probable unhealthy chemical to make it chewable). When the stomach acid is produced in anticipation of receiving food to work on and nothing descends, the acid works on the stomach wall instead and this can produce ulcers. M.

    • Hi Margaret, it is nice to hear again from you!

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. What you said is really interesting and is very timely with this article and topic.

      Thank you for being here with us. Have a wonderful day!

  23. Thanks for your reminder on chewing your food well.I take your enzymes and they have helped tremendously
    But I have no gall bladder Q/ Should I be supplementing with something to get the best out of my food? I still have a little heartburn now and then. Thanks C

    • You are so welcome, Carol. Glad to hear our P3E supplement is working so well for you. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

      Regarding your question, we have a wonderful article that we recently published on how to get the best results from your Organixx supplements that we would love to share with you. Feel free to check it out here: and let us know what you think.

      Hope you find this helpful. Wishing you all the best on your health & wellness journey!

  24. Do you recommend a product to take if I have had Esophageal cancer and subsequent Surgery to remove the Cancer.
    Apparently Intestinal surgery can have a detrimental affect on digesting Nutrients. I have lost 30 lbs since the surgery 3 years ago and am concerned about additional weight loss. The Cancer has not returned.
    Should I consider Digestive Enzymes ?
    thank you

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