People have been advising others to chew their food well for a long, long time. In Ayurveda, a school of medicine founded in India some 7,000 years ago, slow and thorough chewing is considered essential to strong digestive health, helping to separate a food’s indigestible components from necessary nutrients.
People also flocked to the notion—some, fanatically—in the U.S. During the early 1900s, a self-proclaimed “economic nutritionist” named Horace Fletcher recommended chewing each bite to the point of liquefaction, then involuntary swallowing. “Fletcher was an efficiency buff, and was all about extracting the most from the least,” says science writer Mary Roach, author of Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal. “He wasn’t about 30 chews or something mild—he was talking about hundreds of chews per bite.”