Like me, you may remember sitting at the dinner table when you were a child and frequently being reminded to “Chew your food before you swallow it!!” Well, our parents couldn’t have been more right! Chewing your food properly and meticulously is one of the best ways to improve your overall digestion. The breakdown and absorption of our nutritious meals begins the very moment we place the fork in our mouth.
We were born with a healthy set of strong teeth to assist with the breakdown of our food, the problem is most of us take only 3 or 4 bites before swallowing. The action of chewing signals your body to start producing saliva along with the necessary digestive enzymes.
Saliva has an important role in the digestive process; It moistens the food therefore pre-digesting it, it brings out the full flavor of our meal which helps activate the production of enzymes in the stomach and it contains amylase which is a digestive enzyme that starts the breakdown of carbohydrates. Other enzymes go to work in the stomach as soon as they make contact with food.
However, they can only work on the surface area of the broken down bites or pieces. So, if you take only 3 bites and then swallow your mouthful, your body is going to have a very difficult time digesting the food properly.
The effects of this may lead to burping, heartburn, overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut, abdominal bloating/cramping, gas, indigestion, undigested food in stool and a lack of absorption of nutrients from your meal. So CHEW – CHEW – CHEW! It may take some time to even remember to pay attention to how often you chew but start to make it a habit for you and your loved ones.
The health benefits are worth the extra tooth time. A great practice to start with is to place your fork down in between EVERY bite and focus solely on chewing your food properly. Remember: Food should become almost liquid in your mouth. Ever heard the saying “Drink your solids & eat your liquids”, yes, that’s right!!!
In combination with proper chewing, it’s also very important to practice eating in a relaxed atmosphere with no interruptions. This allows your body to direct all of its energy towards the very vital task at hand and not be distracted.
Turn the TV off, smartphone to silent, perhaps put on some relaxing music and be seated in a proper chair. You can’t expect your body to focus on digestion if you are too busy wondering who committed the crime in “Criminal Minds” while slouching on the couch and checking your new emails.
Practicing the art of chewing has numerous benefits for your overall well-being. It encourages more attention to that which matters most which is nutrient dense wholesome meals shared with your friends and family.
Cory Tice is a Holistic Nutritionist living in the Cayman Islands. She believes in providing the body with the tools to assist in the foundation of nourishment, detoxification and regeneration.