The art of chewing
In today’s fast paced, on the run, no time to chew society it’s not a surprise that more and more people are reporting digestive complaints or disorders.
I have struggled with this as well. Working in the restaurant industry for over 10 years has left me with the habit of standing at my counter to inhale my food while doing 10 other things at the same time. It’s a hard habit to break but totally necessary.
Digestion begins in your mouth. Saliva is the first phase of digestion. If your food doesn’t stay in your mouth long enough the digestive process is already compromised not to mention that chewing properly is vital for the proper breakdown of foods. Your stomach does not have teeth. If you swallow a piece of food prior to it being chewed to a liquid your stomach has to go into overdrive to break it down.
Ok, so let’s go into a little more detail…
Carbohydrates, protein and fat are all broken down, digested and absorbed by the use of different enzymes, organs, etc.
Carbs begin to be broken down in the mouth by saliva then are absorbed in the small intestines. Protein is manually broken down by the teeth (chewing) followed by the chemical breakdown in the stomach by use of pepsin and hydrochloric acid. In the small intestines the broken down protein (amino acids) are absorbed into the body. Fats begin digestion in the mouth and are then emulsified and absorbed with the help of bile from the liver/gallbladder in the intestines.
Picture this: You’re eating your delicious organic chicken breast and potatoes in a hurry. You swallow without properly chewing (ie: all food should become a saliva filled liquid/paste before swallowing -sounds yummy, right?). Your stomach begins to produce hydrochloric acid & pepsin to break down the chicken. The larger the food particles the longer this process takes. Improperly digested food begins to putrefy in your digestive tract causing bloating, gas and pain.
If the food particles cannot be broken down enough in the stomach and intestines you’re meal transitions from a source of vital nutrients to become a digestive nightmare.
In addition to slowing the digestive process leading to food putrefication, the intestines, not knowing what to do with these large food particles, send up red flags causing an inflammatory response.
Now, if you were only eating in a rush once your amazingly resilient body would recover like it never happened.
The problem arises when this assault on the digestive system happens day in and day out as is the case with most speed – eaters.
Over time the inflammation in the intestines can allow these large, undigested food particles to enter the blood stream. Once in the blood stream, white blood cells attack them as foreign invaders. More inflammation. Inflammation that is now being carried throughout your body via the blood stream. What started as digestive discomfort has the potential to blossom into so many other ailments- allergies, muscle and joint pain, arthritis, and even cancer.
So what’s the answer?
CHEW YOUR DAMN FOOD!
Additional benefits of chewing:
The longer you chew the less you eat. You will feel satisfied sooner which will lead to better portion control, decreased caloric consumption all leading to proper weight management.
Better digestion leads to increased nutrient absorption. You’re paying for your food and/or spending time cooking it. Don’t cheat your body and your wallet by not getting the most out of your food.
Chewing increases saliva production. Saliva naturally washes away bacteria in the mouth helping to prevent tooth decay.
Chewing triggers the rest of the digestive process. It sends signals to the stomach and the pancreas so they can be prepared once the food is swallowed.
Savour the flavour! Take the time to enjoy your food.
Mahatma Ghandi says “Chew your drink and drink your food.” If you’re not going to listen to me you probably should listen to him.