Hot Dog Eating Champs May Outlive All of Us!

Long live Joey Chestnut!

Long live Kobayashi!

Who would have thought that being a competitive eater may offer some longevity benefits.

The Wall Street Journal had a story earlier this week that the force of a man’s bite at age 70 may be a marker of his longevity.

According to a study in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation, the risk of dying before reaching their mid-80s was 84% higher in men with a weaker bite than those with a stronger bite.

Low bite force may be a sign of musculoskeletal decline that can ultimately lead to disability and death, the study suggests. Low intake of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients can also affect oral health and increase people’s vulnerability to chronic disease, the researchers said.

No connection was found between jaw strength and long-term survival in women of the same age group.

So what can you do to develop a stronger bite?

Perhaps the secret can be found by looking at the training regimens of the food eating champs.

According to the web site, during quick eating contests and challenges that don’t really require a high stomach capacity, one of the main differences that separates one eater from the next is jaw strength.

The web site then offers a few exercises you can do to strengthen your jaw; here are a couple of them:

  • The most widely used training method is chewing “sugarless” gum since it is virtually calorie-free and very affordable. Adding additional pieces will increase the gum’s “resistance” so you may want to add a few extra pieces every now and then.
  • If you can afford the calories, thick crust pizza and soft pretzels are known to be chewy along with sandwiches made with really tough and chewy breads (French).

And just like with training any muscle for strength, when you are training for jaw strength, you are not doing it right if your mouth and jaw is not tired by the end. If you are chewing gum, chew until it hurts, and then chew some more. Just don’t do it all day every day.

So it looks like I’ll be going to Costco to see if they sell sugarless gum in bulk. And now I have a legitimate excuse to eat more soft pretzels from Wawa. If only my cardio training was this enjoyable…

One final thought: Joey Chestnut’s nickname is Jaws; does that mean he may outlive Methuselah?

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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