Well for starters, our body uses the energy in food as fuel. If you don’t put fuel in your car it won’t run. If we don’t eat ... well ... we won’t run either.
Yet there is something that must happen in order for the food we eat to make its way into the blood stream where the body can use it as fuel. This is one of the critical roles of the gastrointestinal system.
Among other things, it’s the job of the digestive tract to separate the macronutrients we consume (protein, fats, and carbohydrates) into their individual components (amino acids, fatty acids, and simple sugars). Once food is broken down into amino acids, fatty acids, and simple sugars it can cross into the blood stream where the body can use it. But what happens if our food isn’t broken down into smaller pieces? Well, for starters our bodies don't get the fuel they need (which means less energy). In addition, partially digested food can cause all sorts of irritation and inflammation in the gut. Our bodies will have to use energy to heal a damaged gut. If we're struggling with fatigue, it's important to ensure proper digestion and absorption is occurring.
A very easy, and free, way to improve digestion is to chew our food. I’ve spoke about this before and I’m sure I will again because it’s so important and often overlooked. The process of chewing helps in both the mechanical and chemical breakdown of protein, fat, and carbohydrate into amino acids, fatty acids, and simple sugars. I find that most of my clients eat very quickly and pay little attention, if any, to how "digested" a bite of food is before swallowing. I struggle with this as well and I'm constantly reminding myself to keep chewing. Try this, at your next meal put your fork down between bites. Once the fork is down, focus on chewing. The number of times you’ll need to chew to effectively break apart the food will depend on what you are eating. It’s hard to chew eggs twenty or more times but you can definitely do that with a steak or kale salad. Begin to build some awareness around this step of digestion and practice the art of chewing.
We all benefit from chewing more thoroughly. That being said, if you experience these symptoms it's extra important to chew more:
- Undigested food in stool
By chewing more we’ll aid digestion, and absorption, of our food which, will have a positive impact on our energy levels by increasing the fuel that reaches our cells and decreasing the energy directed towards healing an inflamed gut.
Now, start chewing and let me know how it impacts your energy levels.