Importance of Chewing Your Food: Day 12 of National Nutrition Month

How many times did a parent or grandparent tell you, when you were a kid, "Chew Your Food"?!...

Believe it or not, there is science and some basic biology that backs this old school saying.

Digestion begins in the mouth. So your oral cavity, tongue and teeth along with saliva are step one in ensuring proper digestion.

Your body will produce an enzyme called salivary amylase to start breaking down food as you chew. What you swallow is called a bolus which travels down the esophagus and makes it way into the stomach for further digestion.

Your stomach acid (HCl) along with enzymes produced by your pancreas start breaking down the food further before moving into the small intestine.

Think of it like this...

If you don't chew your food properly, you have larger particles of food going into the stomach, which makes it harder for your body to further digest. This leads to higher potential for large food particles to remain and then travel to the small intestine.

Why is this a negative?

If undigested food gets into the small and large intestine it can lead to bloating, flatulence and constipation. It also becomes very difficult for your body to absorb all the nutrients coming from the food you've eaten. Btw, are you deficient in any vitamins and/or minerals?

If your answer is yes, you could not be chewing and/or digesting your food properly. So here are some basic tips to ensure you're starting your digestion off right!

1. Chew your food until it loses its texture (should be soft and easily swallowed)

2. Expect to chew more with foods that are less water dense and/or harder in texture. Think meat, poultry, fish, some raw fruits (apples, mango, pear), raw veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, celery, radish), grains, root vegetables etc

3. According to research the average number of chews it takes to break down food properly is 32

4. Eat when you have time to eat. Eating when you are pressed for time or feeling stressed can cause you to rush the chewing process. Stress also decreases your body's ability to digest in general. Not such a great combination!

Another benefit of chewing your food is WEIGHT LOSS!

Your brain takes about 20 minutes to register fullness and taking the time to chew your food means you eat more slowly, giving your body time to register actual fullness. So there may not always be room for dessert, LOL.

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