Incomplete food chewing makes you vulnerable to microbial infections, gums diseases and mouth cavities, according to a latest study.

University of Manchester and National Institute of Health in the US scientists have found out that when the food is properly broken down into smaller particles, it activates the immune cells and instigate the Helper T cells production. Proper mastication not only improves digestion, but also act as a barrier against the infectious germs.

Previously, scientists have believed that, just like the gut flora, commensal bacteria inside the mouth cavity activate the immune response, but according to the current study, how well we masticate the food particles invokes the germ fighting soldiers inside the mouth.

Th17 cells as a subset of Helper T cells are inborn germ fighters. They function by transporting macrophages and neutrophils to fight against the foreign particles at the site of infection.

Dr Joanne Konkel, the lead researcher and biologist added that: “Our research shows that, unlike at other barriers, the mouth has a different way of stimulating Th17 cells: not by bacteria but by mastication. Therefore, mastication can induce a protective immune response in our gums”.

But not to forget that over-production of th17 cells in the oral cavity can be troublesome for it may cause inflammation and bleeding in the gums. These are known symptoms of a severe gum disease called periodontitis which is also associated to many other illnesses such as diabetes, arthritis, pre-term birth and heart conditions.

If this is the case, how do we know that how much chewing is good chewing?

Give it a count, 32 times and then engulf. Burp!

Earlier studies have shown that proper food mastication is also linked to a stress coping mechanism. It inhibits the production of stress related information in the brain. Additionally, proper food chewing improves digestion, maintains the oral hygiene and also enhances the absorption of nutrients into the cells.

So next time when you munch, chew it well!