The Health Benefits of Chewing: Lowering Blood Sugar and Reducing the Risk of Dementia

Chewing movement refers to a masticatory movement that engages the upper and lower teeth by moving the temporomandibular joint and facial muscles. Mastication movement is an important motion that not only chews food thoroughly to ensure good digestion, but also has a very important effect on the health of the whole body, including the human brain, in addition to dental health.

Good chewing function can prevent various diseases such as diabetes and dementiaㅣSource: Getty Image Bank

Why chewing makes you healthier
Saliva contains amylase, an enzyme that converts carbohydrates into maltose. Of course, saliva contains not only amylase, but also mucin, parotin, known as an anti-aging hormone, and antibacterial substances and antioxidants such as immunoglobulin, lactoferrin (antiviral and antibacterial substance), lysozyme (antibacterial enzyme) and peroxidase (peroxidase). Included.

When you masticate, the blood flow to the brain increases and the blood flow to the brain becomes smooth. Oxygen supply is also smooth, activating the brain, preventing dementia in the elderly, and affecting the mental and physical development of children and adolescents. In addition, it shows preventive effects on cancer, obesity, diabetes, and osteoporosis as well as dental diseases.

Chew well to lower blood sugar… Helps manage diabetes
In particular, masticatory movements are very important in diabetic patients. Recently, a research team from the University at Buffalo School in the US published a study on the relationship between masticatory function and blood sugar in diabetic patients in the international journal ‘PLOS ONE’. As a result of the study, diabetic patients with good masticatory function had lower blood sugar levels than diabetic patients with poor masticatory function. As of 2019, nearly 500 million people worldwide have diabetes, of which at least 90% have type 2 diabetes. This study proved that masticatory function in diabetic patients is an important factor in blood sugar management.

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In a retrospective study, Professor Mehmet A. Eskan of the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, USA, looked at data from 94 diabetic patients treated at a hospital in Istanbul, Turkey. The research team compared and analyzed blood sugar levels by dividing them into a group with good masticatory function and a group with poor masticatory function. In the first group, patients who had enough teeth and could chew food well, their blood glucose level was 7.48. The second group consisted of patients who could not chew well due to missing some or all of their teeth. The blood sugar level in this group was 9.42, almost 2% higher than in the first group.

The research team explained, “People with poor chewing function cannot chew food properly, so insulin secretion from food is reduced, and blood sugar rises.” Most of the fiber that helps lower blood sugar levels comes from chewing appropriate foods. In addition, masticatory movements stimulate the intestinal response to increase insulin secretion and the hypothalamus to promote satiety. Increased satiety can lead to less food intake. Eating less can lower your chances of being overweight, a major risk factor for developing diabetes.

In addition, the group with poor chewing function was found to have periodontal disease and had a high risk of diabetic complications. According to a study introduced by Professor Escan, a 1% increase in blood sugar level in diabetic patients increased the mortality rate of cardiovascular or ischemic heart disease by 40%. Other complications include kidney disease, eye damage, and neuropathy. On the other hand, as diabetic patients have a higher incidence of gum disease than the general population, it is necessary to make efforts to protect the chewing function by diligently managing the gums on a daily basis to prevent complications of diabetes.

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Older adults with poor chewing are at higher risk of dementia
Decreased chewing function increases the risk of developing diseases, especially dementia, not only in diabetic patients but also in the elderly. When the chewing ability is reduced, the brain’s learning ability and memory are reduced. Because food is not broken into small pieces, nutrients are not absorbed well into the body, and food that enters the gums rots and causes chronic periodontitis, which damages the central nervous system. According to the research team led by Professor Jae-Gook Cha, Jin-Young Park, and Kyung-A Koh at the Department of Periodontal Science, College of Dentistry, Yonsei University, they investigated the relationship between tooth loss and dementia and found the following results.

If the number of teeth is small, there are fewer parts used for eating, so information transmitted to the brain is reduced, and the force of chewing is reduced, which reduces blood flow to the brain. In addition, insufficient nutrition intake reduces the supply of nutrients to the brain, which affects the onset of dementia. It is known that when mastication is successful, the level of cerebral blood oxygenation increases in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, which play an important role in learning and memory.

Professor Cha Jae-guk said, “It is easy to lose teeth due to natural loss or extraction with aging, but if left unattended, it becomes difficult to chew food well.” Maintaining masticatory ability through treatment is important in preventing dementia.”

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2023-05-11 08:00:00

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