How Eating Too Fast Causes Bloating and Gas
There are several reasons why eating too fast is a major causes of gas, bloating, stomach pain and other intestinal problems.
The most obvious one is poor digestion, but fast eating can cause many other digestive problems as well.
Here’s why eating too quickly makes you fart and 5 health benefits of slowing down and enjoying your meals.
The Importance of Chewing Food Properly
Digestion starts in the mouth, not in the stomach. Chewing breaks up the food into more manageable pieces, increases its surface area and mixes it with saliva.
This saliva contains the enzymes amylase, which starts breaking down carbohydrates in the meal and lingual lipase to begin the proper digestion of fats. The whole digestive process can impaired when we are eating too fast.
Along with the enzymes in saliva, there are also antibacterial agents such as immunoglobulin A, lactoferrin, lysozyme and peroxidase and a substance called epidermal growth factor (EGF), which can help heal inflamed intestinal tissues.
If you’ve been eating too fast and scoffing down your food with very little chewing, you increase the risk of inflammation within your gastrointestinal tract.
People often label the associated discomfort ‘stomach pain’ or ‘cramps’, but an inflamed small or large intestine is the more likely culprit.
Slowing down your eating and chewing well produces more saliva with more epidermal growth factor to give any inflammation of the GI tract a chance to heal.
If you suffer from intestinal cramps or stomach pain then one of the best natural cures is to stop eating so fast, slow down and chew your food really well.
Eating Too Fast Feeds Intestinal Bacteria
While some food components, such as certain carbohydrates in beans, are unlikely to be digested, regardless of how well we chew them up. Others, like proteins that can be digested more fully with slower eating, often aren’t when we eat too quickly.
Having too much protein in too large a meal is a common cause of digestive problems and excessive flatulence.
Undigested protein can putrefy in the heat of the large intestine and, with bacterial action, lead to the production of gases like hydrogen sulphide, indoles, skatoles and mercaptans. It only takes a small amount of these gases to create some really bad smelling flatulence.
Digestive enzymes can help with protein digestion, but ideally consider having smaller portions of meat in your meals.
Good quality protein is very important for overall health and well being. But large servings of protein based foods, particularly from poor sources like overcooked or processed meats, are unlikely to be digested well.
It’s worse than just wasting all that excess protein when you have a massive steak or huge burger. Too much protein puts a real strain on your whole digestive system and can lead to numerous health problems.
It’s also a major cause of those really smelly farts. So go easy on the meat. Quality over quantity makes for better digestive health and less problems with bloating and gas.
Distracted Eating Vs Slow Eating
With so many aspects of our lives seeming so rushed, eating a meal really should be a chance to slow down, relax and enjoy our food. This doesn’t seem to be the case for many people.
We eat distracted in front of the TV, or hurrying down lunch staring at the computer screen at work, even walking down the street, sandwich in one hand, phone in the other. Are we even tasting our food anymore or just shoveling it in out of habit?
If you want to avoid indigestion, stomach gas, bloating and flatulence, and possibly larger health problems in the future, it’s worth remembering to slow down when eating, taste and enjoy your food and start chewing each mouthful more thoroughly.
5 Health Benefits of Eating Slowly
1. Less Swallowed Air
When you rush down food you’re much more likely to swallow air, which can cause stomach gas and abdominal bloating. Eating slowly and chewing food properly means less air is going into the stomach.
This is especially important in the evening, as when you lie down to sleep it’s harder for the stomach gas to escape with burping and it’s more likely to get sent in the other direction and end up as bloating and flatulence.
2. Heal Your Digestive System
Savoring your meals and chewing for longer mixes more saliva with the food you are eating. Salivary fluids are very important for digestion as they start the enzymatic breakdown of your meal.
Saliva also contains antibacterial agents and epidermal growth factor (EGF) that assists in the healing of any inflammation in the intestinal tissues.
When you stop eating so fast and start chewing your food properly, you give your digestive system a chance to heal and prevent future problems.
3. Better Food Choices
When they are fully present when eating and really taste the food in their mouths, many people find that the junk food they used to be addicted to doesn’t really taste that good anymore.
Fast food companies spend millions on researching how to make their products smell better and create flavors that hit our taste buds quickly, but then tend to fade away quite quickly as well.
When you actually slow down and really examine the taste of that fried chicken and french fries, it actually turns out to be all oil and salt. The same is true for those fatty burgers that are really pretty bland when you slow down and taste them properly after the initial hit of engineered flavor.
By setting aside a little more time to eat slower, there is no more need to rush out for junk and many people find themselves making healthier choices for meals. Not just because they feel better for it, but also for the better depth and complexity of tastes and flavors in higher quality natural food.
Slowing down, chewing food well and taking the time to enjoy eating and concentrating on the texture and flavors of our meals, leads to better digestion and much less stomach gas and bloating.
4. Eat Slower Means Less Calories and Lose Weight
Taking our time and chewing food properly also helps to promote satiety, that feeling of fullness that tells us it’s time to stop eating.
When we rush our meal, the satiety signal is less likely to get triggered and, as a consequence, we often eat more than our body wants. For many people, this means storing some of the excess food as body fat.
Simply slowing down when you’re eating and chewing your meals more can actually help with losing weight. This study found eating slowly helped to maximize satiation and reduce the number of calories eaten by healthy women.
Using a smaller spoon or fork, taking smaller bites and dividing your meal into multiple portions with a delay between each can also help prevent eating to fast.
5. Prevents Gas, Bloating, Body Odor and Bad Breath
When you eat slowly and chew your food properly it can actually help you to smell better in some surprising ways. Proper digestion affects not just issues with flatulence and belly bloat, but also problems with bad breath and poor body odor in general.
The smaller and better you can chew up your meal, the easier you make proper breakdown of food for your stomach. Which in turn, makes it easier for your small intestine to absorb and leaves less of it undigested for the bacteria in your large intestine to feed on.
It’s these bacteria that are a major cause of flatulence and also contribute to offensive body odor as well, through the waste products they emit.
Some health-care professionals recommend chewing each bite at least twenty times before swallowing it to improve digestion and maximize nutritional intake. While this may help at the start, a better way would be to simply eat slower and focus on savoring and enjoy the process of eating.
Take A Little Extra Time Eating
Taking your time eating and chewing your food well, particularly in meals with protein, starts the digestion process off properly and increases the likelihood of the food being absorbed in the small intestine.
Eating too fast and not chewing food properly on the other hand often causes digestive problems. By hurrying a meal down you risk a good portion of it ending up undigested in the large intestine.
The more undigested food that you send to your colon, the more the billions of bacteria down there will happily turn it into bad gas and bloat up your belly.
When you have smaller meals and take your time, rather than eating too fast, you are much less likely to be feeding them so well. Additionally, poorly digested food is a major cause of constipation.
Eating more slowly also helps reduce stomach gas and bloating from swallowed air and gives a feeling of fullness and satisfaction after a meal that eating quickly rarely does. In this way, slowing down and not eating so fast is one of the easiest ways to start losing weight naturally.
Life can be pretty busy sometimes, but eating is one of those important daily activities that is really worth slowing down for and taking the time to taste and enjoy. Your body will thank you for it later.
Photo 1 credit with thanks: Chris Makarsk
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