Vitality

5 Health Risks Of Eating Your Food Too Quickly

What you eat matters, but what about the speed at which you eat?

According to WebMD, most Americans eat their food too quickly. Health experts have suggested that it takes around 15 to 20 minutes to establish proper digestion and portion control. Studies from recent years have also found that rushing through meals and not chewing enough can pose a number of health risks.

Diabetes 

A Lithuanian study from 2012 noted diabetes as a possible consequence of speed-eating. Type 2 diabetes can be caused by insulin resistance, a condition where cells in the body don't respond effectively to the hormone insulin.

"When people eat fast they tend not to feel full and are more likely to overeat. Eating fast causes bigger glucose fluctuation, which can lead to insulin resistance," says Dr. Takayuki Yamaji, a cardiologist at Hiroshima University in Japan.

Heart problems

Dr. Yamaji was the lead author of a study which examined more than 1,000 participants for 5 years. Participants were divided into 3 groups based on their speed of eating: Slow, normal and fast. Results showed that the group of fast eaters had developed the highest proportion of metabolic syndrome, putting them at serious risk of heart disease and stroke.

Metabolic syndrome can include risk factors such as high blood pressure, HDL cholesterol deficiency, and weight gain. 

"In the future, metabolic syndrome may overtake smoking as the leading risk factor for heart disease," stated the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Obesity

Studies have shown that speed-eating leads to lower satisfaction but a higher caloric intake, significantly increasing the risk for obesity. By gulping down food too quickly, the body cannot signal the feeling of fullness in time. 

"Rushing through a whole meal will cause you to miss those signals, whereas if you were to slow down, you’d give your brain enough time to receive those signals and stop once you realize that’s all you need," says Dr. Amanda Foti, a senior dietitian at Selvera Weight Management Program.

Acid reflux

Unchewed food quickly flowing into the stomach in large quantities can lead to acid reflux, which is when the stomach acid flows into the food pipe and causes a burning sensation. Associated complications include indigestion, heartburn, nausea, abdominal pain and difficulty in swallowing. Taking a gulp of a drink after every bite is also not advisable for those who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Choking

Both children and adults can choke on pieces of food if they are swallowed too quickly and not chewed enough. Talking or laughing while eating has also been known to increase the risk of choking on food.

"You can really choke on anything. You have to be sure you chew properly and not swallow in big gulps," says Joan Salge Blake, a professor of nutrition at Boston University and spokesperson for the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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