Chews To Be Healthy

While studying nutrition, a teacher once assigned homework of chewing each bite of food 100x before swallowing for a full week.  Needless to say, my follow thru on this assignment was a challenge, in fact, it was next to impossible.  However, this exercise of mindful chewing changed the way I ate.  To start, it made me aware just how little I had been chewing my food every day! I had no idea just how much of what I was eating, not to mention the money I spent on my food, was being wasted.

We live in a fast-paced world and everyone seems to always be in a rush. Of course, this hastiness shows up in our eating habits too! I am definitely guilty of multi-tasking while eating. Our habits have become trained to mindlessly consume. The problem is, when the food we swallow isn’t properly chewed, large pieces of food go undigested. These bites don’t just go in one end and out the other - they also cause trouble along the way.  You can order the most nutritionally dense salad on the menu, but if those ingredients are swallowed without being ground down, you literally flush money down the toilet.  Without your teeth, your digestive system can not break down the gorgeous green spinach enough to release the full spectrum of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients locked inside each leaf.

Digestion begins in the mouth. Chewing (and smelling) stimulate the production of enzymes into your saliva. Enzymes work to break down food even further. Your body can’t use the important nutrients locked into your food if it can get at it!  Chewing releases those nutrients.  

Have you ever eaten a full meal but still felt hungry? When we don’t chew properly, the body doesn’t feel satiated because it hasn’t received the nutrients it was expecting. For that reason, it will naturally continue to search for them by eating more food. Hello, overeating!  The more nutrients absorbed, the more energy the body receives, the more you feel satisfied.

When big chunks get past the ivories and into the belly, uncomfortable symptoms will occur. Leaky gut syndrome, acid reflux, weight gain, gas and bloating are just a few examples of side effects that manifest from undigested food.  Ever have really stinky farts? You probably have undigested pieces of food stuck and rotting in your gut!

It's easy to get distracted, I know. There's always something to distract you on your phone and watching tv feels like downtime so eating in front of it becomes easy. But these habits aren’t doing you any favors. Turn the tv off, put down the phone and take the time to chew each bite. Let your saliva really work into your food before you swallow. Taste your food! Connect to the flavors each bite releases. Smaller bites keep you from swallowing whole pieces that strain your stomach and intestines. Take your time. Nothing is more important for your health than the food you eat each day.  Take the challenge of chewing each bite today 100x and pay attention to how your body responds.

BONUS tip: Drink water 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after a meal. We often use water to wash down the food we haven't properly chewed. If you have no water you have to rely on chewing to get the food down. Water also dilutes important digestive enzymes, acids, and chemicals secreted during our meals that are important for digestion. When diluted they become less effective at breaking down and releasing the food's nutrients.


Jen King