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In the modern age, speed may seem like an advantage for everything. But when it comes to your health – specifically your waistline – speed is actually something to be avoided.

Study after study reveals that eating slowly actually promotes better health, and that is because of the way that our bodies are hardwired.

Longstreet Clinic Center for Weight Management bariatric surgeon Dr. Miguel del Mazo has worked with hundreds of patients to successfully help them lose significant weight. And while surgery and diet play a key role in many patients’ improved health, slowing your approach to eating can help anyone who is looking to lose weight, keep weight off, or just enjoy a healthier lifestyle.

“One of the important things that I try to coach patients about is having a good relationship with food – and exercise as well,” Dr. del Mazo said. 

That relationship starts with allowing your body to adjust to the food that you are feeding it during each meal.

“When it comes to food, you have to give your body time to tell you what’s going on. The body sends a lot of signals back and forth, from the stomach to the brain to the center of who you are,” Dr. del Mazo said. “And if you don’t take time enough to listen to those signals, you’re going to overeat, or eat the wrong things, or fall to prey some classic troubles that are going to lead to more pounds, more diabetes, blood pressure issues, sleep apnea, and more.”

It takes about 20 minutes for the stomach alert the brain that it is full. So, if you do what the average American does these days – and scarf down a meal as though it were a race – you are setting yourself up for poor health and added weight.

Why is this so? Because the digestive process is controlled by hormones, and those hormones need time to react before your brain can acknowledge all that is happening and tell you that, yes, you are full, stop eating.

This process is nothing like the electrical signals we associate with our nervous system – signals that allow us to react almost instantaneously. 

“Signals from the body can come one of two major ways: electrical or hormonal. Electrical signals are very, very quick. If you touch a burner, you’re going to know very quickly that it’s hot. There’s an electrical signal that goes from your fingertip to your brain; you’ll pull back your hand. You know immediately what’s going on. Hormonal signals are a little slower, they take more time,” Dr. del Mazo said. “When you put food into your stomach, there’s a stretch of the lining of your stomach, the walls of the stomach. That stretch promotes a signal that is hormones being made, these are proteins being packaged, put together. They’re then delivered to the bloodstream; they travel to the brain. In the brain, the brain has to process them in enough of a concentration to tell you what’s going on. 

“But if you rush through that signal, fly right past the yield signs, straight through the stop sign and find the police officer on the other side, it’s not a good situation to find yourself in.”

So many of us encounter those very “police” – and the result is not good. By eating fast and taking in too many calories, we overeat. And overeating leads to a host of health problems. It may start with a little extra weight. But, over time, it can lead to obesity – and the host of co-morbidities that obesity and severe obesity can bring with it. These include diabetes, high blood pressure, increased cholesterol, heart disease, and an increased risk of several different cancers, to name a but a few.

In fact, one recent study showed that fast eaters are 11% more likely to the risk factors for cardiac disease. There’s also the toll that carrying extra weight takes on your limbs and joints, as well as your psychological wellbeing.

In short, there is every reason to take your time with your meals. Enjoy them and get the most out of them. And if you do things like chewing each bite 20 times before swallowing and sitting down to your meal, rather than eating whenever and wherever the mood strikes, there is ample evidence that you will realize true benefits – such as a study released by Japan’s Kyushu University, which showed that eating slower inhibited the development of obesity.

Chewing more thoroughly also aids digestion as well –as digestion actually starts with enzymes present in the saliva in your mouth. And it will be easier on your body to fully digest smaller bits of food. Chewing also increases blood flow to the stomach and gut as well, priming the pump so to speak, to better aid digestion.

Dr.del Mazo and his colleagues are certainly believers.

“Going slow allows your body a chance to learn what your body’s trying to tell you,” Dr. del Mazo said. “It helps you to be able to eat better foods in more appropriate quantities; it helps you lose weight and stay healthy long term.”

Learn more today

If you would like to learn more about healthy eating habits, losing weight or the different options to help you get control of your health, please contact Longstreet Clinic’s Center for Weight Management today. Dr. del Mazo and a team of caring, dedicated providers are ready to help, click here or call us at: 770-534-0110 or toll free at 877-921-0110.

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