Lets face it. Most of us don't chew. We inhale.
Lets face it. Most of us don’t chew our food. We inhale. To add insult to injury we inhale our food while driving, watching TV, or texting. At the same time digestive disease is skyrocketing. We spend countless dollars on supplements to alleviate common symptoms of poor digestion: heart burn, boating, constipation, diarrhea, and painful cramping.
As a Digestive Health Coach, I always look for high leverage points. The new habit we can build that will have a positive impact on multiple areas of the body. So, I’d like to take a moment to explain why chewing is a high leverage point for your digestive health and the wellness of your entire body.
Our body does not survive on carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Our digestive tract must take the macro-nutrients we eat and break them down into the simple sugars, amino acids, and fatty acids that our body actually uses. If this breakdown does not take place a couple of things can happen.
First, if food isn’t broken down appropriately we won’t have access to most of the nutrition in our food. We all know that malnutrition isn’t a good thing. Second, partially digested food causes irritation in the digestive tract. An inflamed gut can become leaky, leading to issues ranging from multiple food sensitivities to autoimmune conditions.
So, how does the body break carbohydrates, proteins, and fats down into simple sugars, amino acids, and fatty acids? Yep, by chewing! When we chew we begin the mechanical breakdown of food. By breaking the food into smaller pieces we increase the surface area of the food, which ensures that chemical breakdown is effective. The longer we chew, the more saliva we produce. Saliva helps lubricate our food and also contains an enzyme called amylase which begins breaking carbohydrates down into simple sugars. In addition to saliva secretion, chewing thoroughly activates the cephalic phase of digestion. During cephalic digestion our brain sends signals down the vagus nerve and into our stomach, which then begins producing gastric acid to further assist in the digestive process.
The process continues through the stomach, into the small intestine, through the colon, and finally out our bottom. Suffice it to say that if we continue to follow this process we can see how chewing is critical to a well functioning digestive system. If we skip it, we make everything a lot more difficult.
So, lets have a chewing revolution! Lets use those pearly whites. Lets take the time to put the fork down between bites, turn the TV off, and focus our attention on the food we are eating.