How Well You Chew Could Be Impacting Your Blood Sugar

I like to scan the headlines for any new or interesting information about type 2 diabetes. This week something popped out at me: a headline about the way chewing food can possibly lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes! I love to share simple ideas, and this seemed promising, so I read more about the recent study.

Let's review the findings about chewing food

This small research study was conducted on 94 patients with type 2 diabetes. The study participants' average age was around 54, and they had to have been living with type 2 diabetes for at least 1 year.1

Analyzing chewing and blood sugar levels

The researchers tested the blood glucose of 2 groups of participants. The participants were split into 2 groups, one with "4 occlusal functional areas in the posterior area," which means they had teeth that touch each other and could chew their food well.1

The other group had one or more areas of teeth that didn't touch, so they could not chew well. In other words, they were comparing the blood sugar levels of folks who could chew their food thoroughly and folks who could not.1

More chewing may mean lower blood sugar

The results were quite interesting. Researchers found that blood glucose levels of the group with well-functioning chompers were significantly lower than those of the group with trouble chewing. Furthermore, once the participants with difficulty chewing had their teeth repaired so they could chew properly, their blood sugar levels dropped as well.1

Digestion starts in the mouth

Why would this be? Well, as we learned in science class back in the day, digestion starts in the mouth! When you can chew well, saliva is released, which contains an enzyme that breaks down starches and begins the digestion process. It makes sense that if food can't be chewed properly or for long enough, that those starches can't be broken down as well.2

Keep in mind that this study was very small, and all research has its limitations. But it certainly seems to contain helpful and potentially promising information.

Importance of dental health

So what does this mean for you? First and foremost, if you have dental issues, get them resolved. If it has been a long time since you have been to the dentist, it is time to make an appointment.

Dental work beyond the usual cleaning and X-rays can be expensive. Look into dental insurance, or call 1-888-Ask-HRSA to connect with the Health Resources and Services Administration. They may be able to connect you with a provider or offer assistance.

Slow down and thoroughly chew your food

And if your teeth are already shipshape? You're probably good to go. But why not slow down while you eat to make sure you are thoroughly chewing your food?

I know dinner at my house can feel like a competition, with everyone eating as quickly as possible to get to the next thing. Since we need that precious chewing time to properly digest, though, it's worth paying attention and slowing down!

Regular dental checkups are important for everyone, but especially folks with type 2 diabetes. This preventative care will keep your teeth in good working order and allow you to have problems fixed if and when they occur.

Next time you have a meal or snack, remember: It's possible that the way you chew can impact your blood glucose!

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