Who nowadays does properly chew its food? Not that many people do. I certainly never did. For me food was just a means to get my energy fast and that’s it. I thought it was normal to eat very fast as long as I had no reactions or stomach upsets. I never paid attention to the way I eat or the environment in which I do. Every day we are so rushed by our daily activities and fast paced lives, so we never take those 30 minutes to eat relaxed and just slow down. We are so inundated with “I have no time” messages that we often turn towards fast and processed foods. I read in a British survey, made by the Just Chew It! campaign, that British people merely spend just a 23 minutes masticating a day! This is just unbelievable and no wonder so many people complain after their meals of having digestive issues and high acidity levels. Properly chewing our foods not only helps us not having to deal with these kind of problems but it is crucial for nutrient absorption and digestion.
Mastication: 5 Reasons to Chew Your Food
1. Increase the nutritional absorption of food.
Chewing breaks your food down from large particles into smaller particles that are more easily digested. Digestion DOES start in the mouth, not in the stomach or intestines like many of us believe. Saliva contains digestive enzymes, so the longer you chew, the more time these enzymes have to actually transform the food you eat into an “absorbable” form that can be sent afterwards to your stomach and intestines. Enzymes in the saliva are able to chemically break down the foods, specifically carbohydrates so if you have trouble with carbohydrates or experience gas frequently after eating, try and spend more time chewing. This also makes it easier for your esophagus and for your intestines to absorb nutrients from the food as they pass through. Moreover,it also prevents foods that are not properly digested to pass through the walls of the intestines and entering the blood which can cause a wide variety of allergies and harm your health in the long run.
The more you chew, the less is lost and more is retained in the body.
This is the only thing you should keep in mind before you go for your next meal.
2. Improve Digestion.
The simple act of chewing signals the whole digestive tract that food is coming so it has time to properly prepare for digestion. Chewing stimulates peristalsis as well, which is the process of muscular contractions that push the food through the tract. So if you have bowel problems, masticating more might help you as it will help your stomach work more efficiently and make the food move faster along your intestines. Chewing also helps digestions as it predigests your food and liquefies it which will make it easier for your stomach. Digestion is actually a very demanding task for your body because it requires a lot of energy, especially if it has to deal with improperly chewed food.
3. Your teeth will thank you.
The bones holding your teeth as well as your gums benefit from chewing as the muscles get to move and actually work out. In this way, you will keep them strong and it will be beneficial to you as you get older. The saliva you produce while chewing is also beneficial because it clears food particles from your mouth and washes away bacteria, so over time you will have less deposits of plaque buildup, tooth decay, cavities and all sorts of gum problems as well.
4. Less bacteria in your intestinal tract
In order to have great health you need a balance between good an bad bacteria. But when large particles of improperly chewed food enter your stomach, it makes it harder for the stomach to properly digest all the food so a lot of it may pass undigested through your intestinal tract. There, two things can happen : bacteria will begin to break it down, or food will start to putrefy which will potentially make you experience gas and bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramps or other digestive problems.
5. Distress and relax.
In the beginning you will have to pay attention to your chewing. You may count the number of times you chew per bite, or you may just be present and pay attention to the taste, smell and texture of food. So this presence will actually resemble a form of mediation which will not only relax the body and help the digestion but it will also help you distress, be more calm and actually enjoy your food. You might be surprised to discover flavors or textures you never noticed before even though you ate the same meal hundreds of times before.
Tips for eating:
These tips have helped me into being more conscious and improve my chewing habits :
- Take smaller bites. Taking smaller bites and chewing properly will also decrease the amount of food you eat.
- Sit down at a table. Avoid eating while standing up.
- Chew slowly
- Chew until your food is liquefied
- Finish chewing and swallowing completely before taking another bite
- Slow down and breathe.
Chewing for No Reason
While chewing is very important when you eat, chewing without eating food is not very good in the long run. I loved chewing gum since I was a kid and I used to keep my gum in my mouth for hours sometimes. I know you love it too but when you chew for a longer period of time (even a few minutes is enough), you send your body physical signals that food will enter the intestinal tract and that it has to prepare for digestion. So,the enzymes and acids necessary for breaking down the food are activated when you chew gum but no food actually comes in. This can cause the stomach acid levels to be overproduced, it can cause bloating, and can reduce your ability to produce sufficient digestive secretions when you actually do eat food.
So if you cannot live without chewing gum, at least chew it for very short periods of time like 5 minutes maximum.
Have you ever considered how you chew? Or did you ever try counting to see how many times you chew? I might try and do this next time if I won’t forget haha. Let me know in the comments what your highest number is!
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