Mastication (chewing) helps to maintain cognitive functions in the hippocampus, a central nervous system region vital for spatial memory and learning. There are multiple neural circuits connecting the masticatory organs and the hippocampus. Masticatory dysfunction is associated with the hippocampal morphological impairments and the hippocampus-dependent spatial memory deficits, especially in elderly. Mastication (chewing) is an effective behavior for maintaining the hippocampus-dependent cognitive performance, which deteriorates with aging. Chewing may represent a useful approach in preserving and promoting the hippocampus-dependent cognitive function in older people.
“Chewing Maintains Hippocampus-Dependent Cognitive Function.” Int J Med Sci 2015; 12(6):502-509. 51288 Huayue Chen, MD Department of Anatomy Gifu University Graduate School of Medicine, 1-1 Yanagido, Gifu, 501-1194, Gifu, Japan +81 58 230 6295 / +81 58 230 6298 (FAX) firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Kin-ya Kubo, Seijoh University Graduate School of Health Care Studies, Tokai, 476-8588, Aichi, Japan. Email: email@example.com
Kirk's Comment: Why do I keep talking about mastication (chewing) and memory and thinking (cognition)? It is because it's so simple to do and there may be other reasons why chewing might help our memory besides stimulating the hippocampus, the area in our brain responsible for memory and learning. 1) If we have our teeth then we can chew better which can help us eat a wide variety of foods and digest and absorb our nutrients better. 2) If we have our teeth that suggests better oral health which is a reflection of total body health. 3) If we really chew our foods, that might mean we are relaxing more through our meal time, and not gulping food standing (Me!) that is half chewed up. Which could lead to all sorts of gut problems.
I am sure there are other reasons why chewing is good for health, but maybe the next time you are racing through a meal you can remind yourself if you slow down and chew not only are you eating for the moment, but helping your memory and thinking for a life time!
Be and Stay Well,