Bastyr Center for Natural Health, Seattle, Washington
Health Information
Overview Health Conditions and Concerns Conditions A-M Conditions N-Z Healthy Lifestyle Tips Bastyr Health-E News News and Events Recommended Reading List Recipes National and Community Resources
Schedule an appointment today
Digestion | The Importance of Chewing
Health Conditions | Digestion | The Importance of Chewing

The Importance of Chewing 

Those over 40 remember our elders telling us to chew each bite 100 times. There was a phrase, "drink your solids and eat your liquids," which meant in essence, "chew really well." Today most people get only three or four chews in before swallowing. For those who have gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD) or are dependent on the "little purple pill" (Prilosec) and antacids, chewing can make all the difference.

GERD happens because acid is pushed up through an "insufficient" lower esophageal sphincter (a muscular band that opens and closes), that separates the esophagus from the stomach. Pain commonly referred to as "heartburn" results.

How do we repair a weak muscle? We exercise it to increase muscle tone. That's what chewing does for the esophageal sphincter. It also activates saliva and other oral secretions that protect esophageal tissue and decreases acidity in the lower esophagus.

A study in the March 1996 issue of Gastroenterology concluded that "a profound and significant increase in the secretion rate of protective components in saliva during masticatory stimulation (chewing) suggests its potential value as a therapeutic approach in the treatment of patients with gastro esophageal reflux disease." Since then, many studies also have shown the benefits of chewing gum after meals to decrease the occurrence of GERD.

Best advice: chew each bite 25 times. What do you have to lose but some heartburn? And with money saved from discontinuing the pharmaceuticals, buy some tasty after-dinner gum. Preferable chewing gums of non-mint varieties, since mint can increase GERD.

Learn more about the services provided by Bastyr Center for Natural Health, or schedule your appointment today.

Writer: Nancy Welliver, Core Faculty, Bastyr University and Bastyr Center for Natural Health

Republished with permission from Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Learn More About It

Find a Provider

Want to find the provider that's right for you? Learn more about our health care providers.  »

Bastyr Center Disclaimer

The health information contained in this site is not intended as medical advice and should not be considered a substitute for appropriate medical care. Any products mentioned in studies cited in Healthnotes articles are not necessarily endorsed by Bastyr. As with any product, consult with a natural health practitioner to discuss what may be best for you.


Appointments: 206.834.4100
Bastyr Center clinic appointments

Submit a contact request or call us to schedule an appointment »

Bastyr University Clinic in San Diego

Are you looking for Bastyr University Clinic, our new teaching clinic in San Diego? More »

Bastyr Center clinic appointments

Learn to love your body in Bastyr's nine-week weight management and lifestyle program. More »

Learn More About Our Services

Natural medicine can treat many types of conditions including:

More treatable health conditions »

Bastyr Center healthcare providers

Interested in finding a provider who's right for you? We recommend that your first visit at BCNH be with a Naturopathic Medicine Provider. »

Home  | Health Information  | Health Care Services  | Our Providers  | Patient Care  | Dispensaries

About BCNH  | Contact Us  | Appointments  | Privacy Policy  | Site Map | Bastyr University