Chewing. The Art of Eating.

Via on Jan 11, 2012

Kate Leinweber, B.Sc R.H.N.

Why is it important for me to ‘consciously’ chew my food?

Improper chewing can lead to many problems in the body, such as:

  • Gas/ Bloating
  • Indigestion/ Heartburn
  • Poor absorption
  • Underactive Stomach/ Low HCl
  • Overeating

The Rhythm and Pulse of Digestion

The pace at which we chew sets the rhythm for the rest of our digestion. If we just shovel food into our mouths and get it down the hatch as quickly as we can, this trend will continue right through our whole digestive tract. If our food is passing quickly through our digestive tract, there is less time for our system to absorb the nutrients present in our food. The rhythm, in the case of our digestive system, is called peristalsis. Peristalsis is initiated once the food from your mouth starts to move towards your stomach from the esophagus to the anus. This rhythmic movement mixes food with hydrochloric acid (HCl) and digestive enzymes ensuring maximum surface area of food is exposed to enzymes so that food is broken down.  When food moves slowly through the intestines it has a good transit time for nutrients to be absorbed. Ever notice that you have a pulse in your belly? Well that is blood flow to absorb nutrients from your food.

The Journey

Starting at the mouth, without chewing, it would be nearly, if not, impossible to swallow. It is the initial method of breaking down our food. Carbohydrates are digested primarily in the mouth. Salivary amylase is produced in the mouth and is the primary enzyme of carbohydrate break down. The more we can mechanically break down our food in our mouth, the easier it is for our stomach to break down the food. Lets remember our poor stomach has no teeth.

The stomach is a firey acidic environment where food is churned and broken down. It has very little to do with carbohydrate digestion (so it was a good thing you chewed and produced lots of saliva!). Undigested carbohydrates are the source of fuel for bad bacteria in our gut that create the uncomfortable side-effects of gas production. The more efficiently food is chewed and mixed with saliva the less likely you are to experience gas and bloating. Chewing stimulates the production of HCl, and without that protein digestion could not occur. Our immune system depends on the acidity of HCl to kill many of the pathogens we ingest before they can make us sick.

Lactobacilli!

Then food moves through the small intestine where fat digestion occurs and most nutrients are absorbed. If food was chewed properly there is a low chance of gas production or support for Candida overgrowth since the carbohydrates are already broken down. Enzymes upon enzymes are produced by the liver, pancreas and cells of the intestines to break food into smaller and smaller pieces until they can be transported to the blood stream.

 

The large intestine is where bacteria will degrade any left over food; usually fiber. Their byproducts are B vitamins, Vitamin K, and other immune supporting molecules. Remember that if you didn’t chew your food properly a byproduct can be Gas! Water is absorbed from food and any garbage that needs to be eliminated is done so with the Beat and the Pulse of our digestion: Peristalsis.

The Art

Proper chewing helps to prevent overeating. If we take our food in faster than our stomach can talk to our brain, the stomach will not be able to communicate it is full until after it is too full! Taking the time to slow down and enjoy a meal will provide a greater sense of satiety. Also, having food in our mouths longer helps us to realize the quality of food going down the hatch. Often, foods we think we enjoy don’t seem as desirable once they are chewed thoroughly, particularly in the case of processed foods and foods with synthetic flavors and/or colors.

It is important to remember food is one of life’s greatest gifts. We can enjoy food every day! Try to enjoy chewing 30 – 50 times per bite. Sometimes it helps to put the fork/spoon/chopsicks down between bites. Try to really taste your food. Enjoy it and let it nourish you.

About Kate Leinweber

I am a Microbiologist and Registered Holistic Nutritionist. I have been in the health industry for close to a decade, starting on the allopathic medical end of the spectrum and now in the holistic realm. I am obsessed with food and its healing abilities! I’ve been a vegetarian, vegan, and even a raw foodist…and I felt crappy and unhappy! I formally studied Holistic Nutrition and discovered individualized balanced nutrition. Currently I help plant-based foodies who have energy crashes and digestive distresses to feel amazing by re-programming their food choices. My practice as Holistic Nutritionist extends around the world and focuses on the ancient knowledge of Chinese Medicine, Medical Intuition and Traditional Food Practices. My holistic model empowers each client with knowledge of how whole foods can sustain a healthy and whole body. Visit me on Facebook.

1,728 views

Like this article? Leave a tip!

(We use PayPal but you don't need an account with PayPal.)

Elephriends - Mindful Affiliates

5 Responses to “Chewing. The Art of Eating.”

  1. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
    Follow on Twitter

  2. Lorin says:

    I say this to one of my children constantly!

    Posted to Elephant Food Facebook and Twitter.

    Lorin Arnold
    Blogger at The VeganAsana
    Associate Editor for Elephant Food
    Co-Editor for Elephant Family

  3. [...] time to have a large relaxing breakfast—make that meal big enough to get you to lunch with the need of a snack. Then make lunch the main [...]

  4. [...] this salty, rich soy sauce replacement is literally teaming with live enzymes reading to improve digestion and speed up metabolism. A naturally aged product, coconut aminos have a slight fermented odor, but [...]

  5. [...] The benefits of eating slowly are often [...]

Leave a Reply