It’s not just what you eat that matters, but how you eat it.
Did you know that digestion begins in the mouth?
As we chew our food, we mix it with saliva, which contains enzymes that invaluably contribute to the chemical process of digestion. The breakdown of the chemical bonds that connect starches, for example, starts with the integration of salivary alpha-amylase; and, fat digestion with the secretion of the enzyme lingual lipase, excreted by glands located under the tongue.
Chewing food thoroughly, to the point that its original texture is entirely broken down, is imperative for optimal digestion. And, optimal digestion and optimal health are inseparable. In fact, in the time-tested sciences of Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, it’s believed almost all illness originates from imbalanced digestion.
Under chewing goes hand in hand with rushed eating.
What risks do these practices pose to the digestive track?
The entire system is taxed from start to finish. Larger food particles can create esophageal stress, which can not only damage the lining, but also contribute to acid reflux. The likelihood of reflux and heartburn will only be increased as the food reaches the stomach and the digestive juices are asked to do more than necessary. In an effort to break down partially digested food, fewer nutrients are absorbed (also bad from an economical standpoint!). From here, the remaining undigested food becomes fodder in the intestinal track, resulting in excess bacteria in the colon, which can lead to bloating, gas, indigestion, IBS, and even appendicitis.
To be honest, part of the inspiration to write this blog is that eating more mindfully is a resolution of mine. In fact, even though I was writing this blog this afternoon, I just happily and relatively quickly devoured the mushroom risotto, roasted salmon, and salad I just made my husband and I for dinner. Basically, I’m very conscious about what I eat, but forget to SLOW down. I also forget to carve out adequate time and end up eating in a hurry before running out the door to teach a class. Or, I’ll be so busy that by the time I eat, I’m ravenous and forget to chew well. So, I am committing myself to patiently and completely chew my food and invite you to join me.
In case you need another reason
to chew thoroughly:
Studies reveal that people who chew their food slowly consume 12% fewer calories on average than those who do not. So, if you’re looking to shed a few pounds, this is a sustainable assist!
The following are a few tips that can help you slow down and better enjoy that meal:
- Stop and acknowledge your food before the first bite. Take the time to cultivate gratitude for the nourishment in front of you.
- Breathe well as you eat. Breathe deeply during and between bites.
- Be conscious of the food’s texture. Rather than counting how many times you chew, focus on fully breaking down the solids before swallowing.
- Think about the flavors…and savor them. You might also find that eating slowly helps you develop your sense of taste, have greater appreciation for the quality of your food, and ultimately lead you to make better food choices.
by Sophie Sophie