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.