The Unexpected Link Between Chewing and Type 2 Diabetes

by François Dupont
6 comments
Chewing and Type 2 Diabetes

Recent research has unearthed a striking connection between the act of chewing and blood glucose levels in patients with Type 2 diabetes. Those with a full capacity to chew demonstrated significantly lower blood glucose levels compared to individuals with compromised chewing abilities. The findings highlight the vital role of oral health in diabetes management, indicating that the simple act of chewing may stimulate processes that lead to reduced blood glucose levels.

The researcher behind this revelation, Mehmet A. Eskan from the University at Buffalo, advises medical professionals dealing with Type 2 diabetes (T2D) patients to pay close attention to their patients’ oral health.

Published in the PLOS ONE journal, Eskan’s groundbreaking research showed a meaningful link between a person’s chewing function and their blood glucose levels in T2D patients. Specifically, those who maintained a full chewing capacity had markedly lower blood glucose levels in comparison to those with compromised chewing abilities. Eskan is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Periodontics and Endodontics at the University at Buffalo’s School of Dental Medicine.

The study analysed data from 94 T2D patients seen at an outpatient clinic in a Turkish hospital in Istanbul. Patients were divided into two groups based on their “occlusal function,” or the ability to chew well due to having enough properly placed teeth. The group with good occlusal function had a blood glucose level of 7.48, while the group with compromised chewing ability had a higher level, at 9.42, nearly 2% more.

The Act of Chewing: More Important Than You Think

As you enjoy your meal at a picnic table with loved ones, you likely don’t think about chewing, or mastication. However, this process triggers several important bodily functions, including digestion and saliva production, which begin the moment you start chewing. Chewing properly helps you obtain crucial nutrients like fiber from your food and stimulates reactions that increase insulin secretion, thus reducing blood glucose levels. Chewing can also create a feeling of satiety, leading to less food intake, which can help prevent overweight and obesity – significant risk factors for T2D.

Oral Health in the Context of Broader Health

Eskan, a DDS from Hacettepe University and Ph.D. from the University of Louisville, where he also completed a residency in periodontology, aims to improve public health through his research. He highlighted that, as of 2019, nearly half a billion people globally had diabetes, with approximately 90% of them having T2D.

In recent times, the importance of oral health has been recognized in the comprehensive approach to managing diabetes. Alongside recommendations for maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, and quitting smoking, Eskan’s study underlines the strong correlation between the ability to chew and control blood glucose levels in T2D patients.

One particular case from a 2020 study that Eskan co-led, showcased the potential benefits of improving occlusal function through dental implants and fixed restoration. The patient with severe impairment of chewing function due to missing teeth initially presented with a blood glucose level of 9.1. However, after treatment with a full mouth implant-supported fixed restoration, the patient’s glucose level fell to 6.2 within 18 months.

The Deadliness of Complications

According to Eskan, even a slight 1% increase in blood glucose level is linked to a 40% increase in mortality from cardiovascular or ischemic heart disease among diabetes patients. Other potential complications include kidney disease, eye damage, neuropathy, and slow wound healing.

Eskan, along with co-author Yeter E. Bayram, MD, Department of Internal Medicine, Hamidiye Sisli Etfal Education and Research Hospital in Istanbul, are eager to conduct further studies to investigate possible causal relationships between occlusal support and blood glucose levels.

Reference: “Mastication inefficiency due to diminished or lack of occlusal support is associated with increased blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes” by Yeter E. Bayram and Mehmet A. Eskan, 14 April 2023, PLOS ONE.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0284319

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Chewing and Type 2 Diabetes

What is the connection between chewing and Type 2 diabetes?

A recent study found that Type 2 diabetes patients who have a full chewing function exhibit significantly lower blood glucose levels compared to those with compromised chewing abilities. The act of chewing stimulates various processes that lead to reduced blood glucose levels, highlighting the importance of oral health in diabetes management.

Who conducted the research on the relationship between chewing and Type 2 diabetes?

The research was conducted by Mehmet A. Eskan, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Periodontics and Endodontics at the University at Buffalo’s School of Dental Medicine.

What does the study suggest for medical practitioners treating individuals with Type 2 diabetes?

The study suggests that medical practitioners should consider their patients’ oral health and chewing function as an essential part of managing their blood glucose levels.

How does the act of chewing contribute to controlling blood glucose levels?

Chewing properly helps obtain crucial nutrients like fiber from food, stimulates reactions that increase insulin secretion, and creates a feeling of satiety, leading to less food intake. These factors collectively contribute to controlling blood glucose levels.

How does poor oral health or impaired chewing affect individuals with Type 2 diabetes?

According to the study, individuals with impaired chewing ability exhibited higher blood glucose levels compared to those with a full chewing function. This suggests that compromised oral health could potentially exacerbate the management of blood glucose levels in Type 2 diabetes patients.

How can oral health or chewing function be improved for better diabetes management?

One potential approach suggested by the study is improving occlusal function through dental implants and appropriate fixed restorations. However, any intervention should be discussed with a qualified healthcare professional.

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6 comments

DaveOnDiet July 10, 2023 - 2:07 am

eating less is easier said than done. but if chewing helps, I’m in. gotta maintain those pearly whites!

Reply
Jake M. July 10, 2023 - 9:33 am

Wow, never thought chewing was so important! I better start taking care of my teeth. Especially coz I’m a diabetic!

Reply
Amelia_S July 10, 2023 - 11:18 am

mind blown. Diabetes and teeth, huh? definitely brushing more from now on…

Reply
SandraP July 10, 2023 - 9:01 pm

Amazing how everything’s connected. Who knew that diabetes could be influenced by something as simple as chewing?

Reply
terryT July 10, 2023 - 10:21 pm

can’t believe what im reading…Chewing and diabetes? science is awesome…

Reply
Missy4Health July 10, 2023 - 11:26 pm

I’m a nurse and even I didn’t know this. Its a very useful insight. ill share this with my patients, thanks!

Reply

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