I have written about the virtues of chewing on a few occasions. Every day I see health issues that could benefit from better chewing, so...
I feel compelled to write about chewing again because your whole body's health depends on the quality of food you eat AND that very food getting to your each and every body cell. Chewing is a foundational habit of good health.
- unlocks the nutrients in the whole food you feed yourself with so those nutrients can feed your body cells which
- makes for vibrant healthy body cells (this is a front line defense against disease of all manners)
- creates a healthy digestive tract
- feeds healthy gut microbes which in turn keep your immune and nervous systems healthy (really, your whole body healthy)
- prevents constipation
- prevents gastro-intestinal ill health symptoms
- and so many more whole health effects!
Chewing for Whole Cellular Health
Eating begins with the simple act of chewing which leads to smooth digestion and greater absorption and assimilation of nutrients by initiating the release of digestive enzymes that break down food. The better chewed your food, the better your body can absorb and use the food’s nutrition. This means healthier better nourished body cells.
The chewing action sends messages between the mouth, brain, and stomach alerting your digestive tract that food is coming. This helps to jump start the whole digestive tract for smoother functioning by starting your digestive juices rolling!
Have you ever chewed a piece of gum only to find your stomach churning and growling within 20 minutes? Your chewing of gum is telling your tummy that something is coming. In the case of chewing gum, nothing is actually headed down to the stomach. You have started the digestive process but not given your digestive tract food to work on.
Carbohydrate digestion begins in the mouth with chewing. Chewing converts whole grains, fruits and veggies, and other complex carbohydrates into satisfying whole food sugars. Whole foods must be mixed with saliva and chewed until they become liquid to release their full nutritional value.
In addition, the more whole carbohydrate foods are chewed, the sweeter they become. This, in of itself, helps to naturally satisfy the “sweet tooth” and end sugar cravings.
Better carbohydrate digestion, from efficient chewing, helps to end that bloated feeling after a meal. Bloat can be carbohydrates that are not digesting well from inadequate chewing and the resultant lack of mixing with salivary enzymes. You literally stop digestion in its tracts from poor chewing habits, making the stomach and small intestine work harder than nature intended.
Chewing breaks apart proteins and fats making the oils, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and all nutrients available for maximum absorption. Because digestion becomes so efficient when you chew your food thoroughly, your body will begin to feel wonderfully light.
Chewing food well takes your mouth and senses through the whole range of flavors in foods. This mindfulness practice, while eating, ensures that your senses experience sweet, salty, bitter, pungent, sour, astringent, and spicy. By chewing and experiencing these tastes, your body is satisfied with less food. No cravings later! (When your blender chews the food for you, you miss this taste sensation experience.)
Try this experiment: Eat a carrot. Chew it poorly (or what is normal chewing for you), leaving good size chunks in your mouth and swallow them. Aim for the size of sunflower or pumpkin seed chunks and swallow. What do you think you will find in your solid waste? You've got it, those very same chunks of carrots, virtually unchanged.
Chew another piece, slowly and taking your time, until the piece of carrot resembles smooth pudding in your mouth. No chunks will be found in your solid waste and your body will be able to absorb all the nutrients from the carrot. Chunks in your solid waste are food wasted; no nutrients can be pulled from the interior of solid chunks of food. Your digestive tract only pulls what it can from the surface area of these food chunks. When food is like “pudding” when swallowed, the food’s surface area is immense and available for digestion and absorption of nutrients.
“Drink your solids, chew your liquids.” An intelligent saying Dr. John Christopher, Naturopath, repeated over and over in the classes I took in Natural Healing and Herbal Medicine. When the solid food you swallow is in liquid form from chewing, your body can absorb all the nutrients in that food. (Whole food eating is expensive. Chew well to get your $$$ worth!) This ensures healthy cell regeneration and deposits into your nutritional banks (not withdrawals and degenerative cells!). This is a foundational practice for good nutrition and whole health.
When consuming liquids, chew them thoroughly also, so you are doing a fine job mixing those salivary enzymes with all the food that passes slowly through your mouth.
Chewing helps you lose weight!
When you slow down and thoroughly chew your food, you create a consciousness around what you are eating and your body’s satiation response (feeling physically satisfied). Chewing food well means your body can digest it better (break it down into usable nutrients) and absorb it better into your blood stream. This means that your each and every body cell will be delivered plenty of whole food nutrition. Your body will not be begging you for more food all the time if your cells are well nourished. Much of the time our hunger is not for more quantities of food and calories but it is a cry from our body for better nutrition, more nutrients at the cellular level. Slowing down to chew food into pudding like consistency (or chewing already liquid foods very well before swallowing) delivers more nutrients to the cells, squelches your body’s begging for food, prevents over eating calories every day, and ultimately supports your body in losing excess weight.
Chew well… life depends on this!
How to Chew Properly
•To get into the habit of chewing correctly, try counting the chews in each bite. It helps if you put your fork down between bites.
•Chew every mouthful of food at least 30 times each, until the food becomes liquid. Chew a minimum of 50 times if what you are eating is a really solid food (raw carrot).
•Chewing preps the digestive organs telling them food is coming. Better digestion is the result as the organs get prepped to release the necessary digestive enzymes.
•Chewing breaks down food and makes it easier on the stomach and small intestine to digest and prepare the nutrients for your beautiful body cells.
•Saliva assists in the digestion of carbohydrates, makes the food more alkaline, and creates less gas.
If under pressure at meals: take deep breaths before you begin your meal, chew, and let the simple act of chewing relax you. Taking the time to chew will help you to enjoy the whole spectrum of tastes and aromas that make up the meal. Taking the time to chew will increase cellular health as the nutrients are more available to your body cells!
Slowing down and taking the time to chew is actually a stress reduction exercise. It is a mindfulness exercise, the yoga of eating, around your food.
Good Meal Prep and Eating Suggestions
•Create quiet spaces and peace for eating, turn off the “screens”.
•Use candle light to create peace and relaxation.
•Sit up with good posture.
•Say a prayer thanking the local farmers for their hard work, the earth that grew your food, your higher power, whoever cooked your meal, and your family and friends who dine with you. The simple act of gratitude slows and calms the body, mind, and soul.
•Put your utensil down when chewing.
•Relax, breathe, and experience the textures and flavors.
•Eat in a relaxed setting: not the car, your desk at work, standing at the kitchen counter, or while on the run.
•Say thanks after you eat as well.
•Create post meal conversation instead of bolting to the “next” activity
•Go for a walk, sit on the porch just listening, create a post meal relaxation experience
Enjoy every meal for the gift of life that it truly is, Paula