On the possible importance of chewing


It all comes down, von Cramon-Taubadel says, to the fact that farmed food requires less work in chewing, resulting in less jaw muscle, which over time means shorter jaws. But alas, neither the size nor number of teeth has changed over the same period of time resulting in overcrowding.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2011-11-shift-ancient-diet-modern-orthodontic.html#jCp


… so if all of society moves towards a primarily liquid diet for the next couple thousand years, we’ll end up with tiny jaws and all of our teeth falling out! Not really, obviously. But it does bring up some interesting questions on the really long term effects of overhauling our method of consumption for the second time in the run of our species.


It also shows that a strictly liquid diet may have a tangible negative effect on the jaw muscles.


I’m less inclined to agree for anyone moving to a liquid diet after adulthood. I think what this kind of study shows is how our jaw muscles and jaw length correlate to the food we eat while we’re developing. This is entirely speculation, of course, but it would be interesting to see a study of kids on diets requiring different ‘masticatory behavior’ and the subsequent length / muscle strength.

All this aside, I guess you could pick up chewing gum, or something equally taxing for the jaw if this is a concern. Chew toys for all!


So you’re saying weightlifting is a myth? Or that jaw muscles are somehow special, not subject to the deterioration that other muscles suffer?


Jaw muscles are used for more than just chewing.


A bit hyperbolic, eh? I was initially saying the deterioration of jaw muscle most likely isn’t going to affect an adult human’s jaw structure, let alone that their jaw would shrink during a single life time and cause added crowding in their teeth due to the strength or use of their jaw muscles.

However, a bit of googling pulled up more than a couple articles on how the lower jaw bone shrinks over time, especially in the case of tooth decay or loss, but more interestingly, with age. How this relates to jaw muscle use is speculated on the article posted, but whether the difference is A) borne out of the developmental stages, or B) over the life time of the individual (with the above articles I might now guess a lot of A, with a bit of B), is yet to be studied.

Just as you could run a study on children with specific masticatory behavior, you could run one on adults (eg: avid gum chewers vs those on ‘softer’ diets), to see if there’s any long term corollary between jaw length (and subsequent teeth crowding), and jaw muscle use.

@andrewf: what’d you have in mind? :wink: (i keed, i keed)


Once a muscle has adapted, it doesn’t take much work to keep it going. Doing a lift even once every two weeks is enough to keep your weight on that lift from dropping. And because muscle building is so expensive, your body doesn’t like to lose the adaptation. For a while my girlfriend went with me to the gym and then stopped. I spent weeks getting her to be able to bench press even the bar for 3x5. She went with me to the gym for the first time in a year this weekend, and she could put up the bar for 3x5 no problem. And even if you lose some of your adaptation, it comes back very quickly, because of your muscle memory.

I’d imagine that if you weren’t on a liquid diet as a teen, and then moved to it as an adult, even a meal or two a week would be enough to keep your jaw in shape.


I for one look forward to welcoming the day when all we need to do is inhale our nutrient rich designer air :wink:


I thought two weeks without exercising was the period when you started to lose muscle mass?