Sometimes when we’re neck deep in work and have to race through our food, eating can be a chore or some passing occurrence. It’s easy to go through an entire meal and forget the flavors and experience, but studies show rushing through our food can have adverse affects on our health.

According to a recent study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions, people who eat fast are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome—a combination of disorders that increase a person’s risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

The study, conducted in Japan, followed 1,000 people over a period of five years, with participants split between those who identified as fast eaters, slow eaters, and those who eat at a normal speed. After the five year period, the fast eaters had the highest incidence of metabolic syndrome at 11.6%, followed by normal eaters at 6.5%, and then slow eaters at a mere 2.3%.

“Eating more slowly may be a crucial lifestyle change to help prevent metabolic syndrome,” said Takayuki Yamaji, M.D., study author and cardiologist at Hiroshima University in Japan. “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. We also believe our research would apply to a U.S. population.”

Slow eating can have a positive impact on one’s health, both on mind and body. Here are five reasons why you should be taking steps to eat slower!

1. Your body needs time to recognize that you’re full!

It takes approximately 20 minutes for your body to recognize that you’re full, so people who eat at a faster pace are likely overeating. It’s important to eat slower so that you don’t keep piling it on before your body gives you the signal that you’re full.

2. Eating fast hinders the digestive process.

When we start to eat, our body goes through a multi-step digestive process that includes everything from salivation all the way to creating stomach acid. If you eat too quickly, each of the steps don’t have enough time to prepare themselves for the incoming food. Fast eaters also tend to not chew enough either. All in all, this can lead to indigestion.

3. Slow eaters are less likely to develop metabolic syndrome.

People who eat fast are more likely to have the conditions, known as metabolic syndrome, that lead to future cardiovascular disease. Those conditions include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol. Each of those factors alone are serious, but fast eaters are more likely to develop them together, increasing their chances of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

4. Eating slower is conducive to losing weight.

Dieting and overall weight loss can be a trying process, but studies show that just by eating slower you can take a step in the right direction. By slowing down when we eat, we become more aware of when we’re full, and more likely to stop eating on time. Conversely, fast eaters are more likely to gain weight because rapid eating makes them less cognizant of of when they should stop.

5. Be mindful about your eating and enjoy the food!

This last reason is not just about slowing down while eating, but slowing down your day and being more mindful and intentional. Eating in general should be an opportunity for all of us to take a moment and enjoy what we’re eating. By doing this, we get more satisfaction out of every bite.

Eat great food, slowly! That will make for a healthier and happier life.

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