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November 23, 2020

Why we Should Start to Chew Mastic like our Ancestors Did.

Is Your Face Too Small?

Did you know that our ancestors chewed for hours per day? This may seem trivial, but it actually caused their skulls to expand to optimal size, leaving open airways, straight teeth, and room for all of our teeth, including wisdom teeth.

For centuries, researchers have linked a diet of soft foods to a host of imbalances, including facial deformities, smaller airways, malocclusion issues, breathing concerns, and, more recently, sleep apnea, snoring, and focus and attention deficit concerns.

In 1939, Weston Price published Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, based on a compilation of over 400 slides and 15,000 print photographs of traditional and tribal cultures, who were still eating close to the way our huntergatherer ancestors did.

Price reports on the far superior facial development, jaw size, and teeth alignment of traditional people who were not consuming soft, processed food. The tribal people he observed from around the world also had no cavities or gum disease, which was growing rampant in modernized communities.

In Daniel Lieberman’s book The Story of the Human Body, Price’s results were confirmed:  

“The museum I work in has thousands of ancient skulls from all over the world. Most of the skulls from the last few hundred years are a dentist’s nightmare: they are filled with cavities and infections, the teeth are crowded into the jaw, and about one-quarter of them have impacted teeth. The skulls of preindustrial farmers are also riddled with cavities and painful-looking abscesses, but less than 5 percent of them have impacted wisdom teeth. In contrast, most of the hunter-gatherers had nearly perfect dental health. Apparently,  orthodontists and dentists were rarely necessary in the Stone Age.”

While Price relates these deformities to gross nutritional deficiencies from a modern diet, others connect it to a lack of chewing from consuming predominately soft food.

Are You Chewing Enough?

Chewing for hours a day is how humans evolved—chomping on tough meat, hard tubers, and grinding stonehard grains. The more we chew, the more stem cells are released, which supports optimal growth of the facial bones, chewing muscles, a wider palate and jaw, and larger airways. Chewing is not only key for breathing and straight teeth, but each time you chew, you pump blood and nutrients into the brain and flush toxins out. 

Today, some 90% of kids experience malocclusion, and require orthodonture and teeth pulling because their underdeveloped jaws are too small for wisdom teeth. Three-quarters of us have deviated septums that are easily visible with the naked eye and half have chronically inflamed nasal turbinates, which are the turbo-chargers of breathing.

In research published almost a century ago, Dr. James Sim Wallace measured the difference of facial structural development of modern soft food eaters and ancient people, who chewed traditional huntergatherer diets. The average size of a modern palate is 2.16 inches, while the average ancient palate is 2.37 inches.

Top 10 Reasons to Chew:

Learning how to chew even after the face has been fully developed can yield numerous benefits. 

    1. Help out lower digestion 
    2. Increase satisfaction and reduce food intake
    3. Lessen hunger hormones
    4. Lose weight
    5. Boost rest-and-digest nervous system
    6. Decrease cravings and emotional eating
    7. Boost cognitive function 
    8. Better attention and focus 
    9. Lack of chewing linked to numerous digestive concerns 
    10. Opens airways and supports proper facial development

Why Chew Mastic Gum?

Mastic gum is a resin from the Pistacia lentiscus tree that grows exclusively in and around Greece. Not only is it the worlds first chewing gum, but it sports a host of health benefits in its impressive resume. Mastic gum will also give your jaw a true workout, supporting the orofacial benefits mentioned above. It is surprisingly easy to chew for hours, unlike most gums that urge you to spit it out after just a few minutes. Chewing mastic gum releases certain acids in the resin found to support upper digestive health and much more.  

Top Ten Benefits of Chewing Mastic Gum

    1. May help relieve digestive pain, discomfort, and inflammation
    2. May help H. pylori bacteria and heartburn
    3. May help with ulcers
    4. May help ease symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
    5. May help lower cholesterol
    6. Promotes overall liver health 
    7. May help prevent cavities
    8. May help treat symptoms of allergic asthma
    9. May help ward off prostate cancer
    10. May help thwart colon cancer

Best Mastic Gum

There are two brands of mastic gum I recommend:

  1. Falim are individually wrapped pieces of mastic gum that come in a few flavors. While tough to chew, giving your jaw a good workout, it is mildly processed and I was not able to chew it for as long as when I chewed the raw resin straight from the tree. 
  2. Chios Mastic Gum (Maolixa Xiou) is the raw resin. It comes as a bag of resin pieces of different shapes and sizes. It takes a few minutes to slowly warm and chew the hard rocklike resin into actual chewing gumbut it is worth the wait. Chios mastic gum is an even greater workout for the jaw than Falim and for some reason is easier to chew for longer periods of time.

I actually have both. Falim mastic gum is cheaper and easy to carry because they are individually wrapped, while the Chios I keep at my desk to chomp away while writing! Check with your dentist before chewing mastic gum, as it can stress and challenge dental work. Start slowly and gently and build up to chewing for one to two hours a day.

If you try mastic gum, let us know what you find. 

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