We aren’t what we eat; we are how we eat & what we absorb.
Both the physical & chemical process of digestion begins with chewing. It prepares food for swallowing & makes it easier to absorb its nutrients, as well as promoting the feeling of fullness from eating less.
Chewing not only breaks food down into pieces small enough not to suffocate on, it also mixes the food with saliva & digestive enzymes to lubricate & begin breaking it down.
In our busy society, too many individuals view mealtime as a waste & rush through meals by missing most mastication, & simply washing gulps of food down with liquid. Such food practices will eventually lead to serious digestive issues & overeating, because the body is not able to get nutrition from poorly chewed food.
Proper chewing sets our digestive system up for better nutrient absorption & prevents digestive problems. Failing to do so can sabotage even the best diet.
Chewing vs. Gulping
The goal of chewing is to break down our food until it loses all lumps & becomes a liquid or paste. The more digestion that takes place in our mouth, the less work our organs have to do later.
Pulverization needs to be done in our mouth, since our stomach does not come with teeth. Chewing 32 times has been thought of as an average number applied to most bites of food. However, hard nuts may require 50 or 60 chews, while watermelon may only need 15 per mouthful.
However, thorough mastication doesn’t mean having to count every chew from now on; it merely means to give up the habit of forcing food down prematurely. Just make sure that it’s liquid before swallowing & only swallow what you can with no liquids at all.
Hospital patients were studied & they found that being fed via a tube did not digest their food nearly as well as patients who were able to chew & swallow their food.
Saliva to the Rescue!
Chewing fortuitously exposes the food to saliva for a longer period of time, & causes the production of more saliva, which softens & lubricates the bolus for easy swallowing. Saliva also contains the digestive enzymes needed to break down all food compounds into manageable particles.
Saliva “speaks” to our brain in order to trigger the rest of the digestive process, preparing the stomach & pancreas to start secreting their bond dissolving juices.
Saliva is a personal live-in dentist that helps prevent cavities by foiling food from sticking to our teeth & washes away food debris & bacteria from our mouths; it regulates the acidity levels of the mouth, which reduces plaque buildup & tooth decay while strengthening the jawbones that hold the teeth. Because of this, cavities, halitosis, & gingivitis are eliminated by the perfect chew. If you want to avoid the dentist, take mastication seriously!
More Benefits of Chewing Well
Chewing all food to the point of liquefaction provides an even longer list of benefits:
- Maintains a healthy weight
- Promotes growth, repair & efficient body & brain function
- Increases our oxygenation, which allows us to be more alert, improves our mood, stimulates our brain, develops the intelligence of children, & prevents memory loss in adults
- Proper Speech Development: Using the muscles around the mouth will help in the development of the jaw, allowing better pronunciation & making our face more expressive
- An enzyme called peroxidase in saliva suppresses carcinogens in food, preventing cancers
Consequences of Not Chewing Well
When food is not well chewed, undigested food also becomes rotting fodder for bacteria in the colon, which can lead to:
- Greater Propensity to Food Poisoning
- Lethargy / Low Energy
- Bacterial Overgrowth / SIBO
- Skin Problems
- Malformation of Facial Bones
- Memory Loss / Brain Fog
Chewing Gum Really Messes Up Digestion
When we chew gum, our digestive system gets stimulated by the mastication, & begins to secrete digestive acids. If we chew but fail to send food down our throat, excess acid will stay unused in our stomach & cause problems.
Chewing gum repetitively causes the body to learn over time not to secrete so many acids when stimulated by chewing. Then, when actually chewing for swallowing, our body won’t secrete proper levels of acid, which will lead to poor digestion & disease.
Mouth Breathing Almost Eliminates Chewing
Since it is unattractive & rightfully socially unacceptable to eat with our mouth open, ideally we should be taking in several breaths per mouthful.
Most mouth breathers, those with allergies or other difficulties breathing through their nose, have probably been conditioned to gulp down food without much chewing, which weakens the shape & muscle health of our face
Mewing – Where Should Our Tongue Rest?
Out tongue pushes food around while we chew & helps us swallow, drink, speak, & taste. But what should it do when not in use?
Healthy development of the skull & facial bones require proper tongue “storage”. Form & function are tied together in our intricate skull, where the bones will develop according to the muscles surrounding them in accordance to Wolff’s Law.
Proper tongue posture, also known as mewing or Orthotropics, is a simple, lifelong habit that involves sealing your tongue to the roof of your mouth & noticing how it is subtly interconnected to our posture, breathing, facial symmetry, confidence, sinuses, cranium, brain, mood, & feeling of euphoria.
- Stick your tongue to the roof of your mouth / palate
- Rest your molars against each other (but not the front teeth)
- Lips are gently closed
- Breathe through your nose
- Practice it consistently
Calmly focusing on the food that we’re chewing allows us to enjoy the aroma & savor every bite, maximizing the most pleasure from each mouthful. Mindful eating releases more flavors because the food’s in contact with taste buds longer, so it boosts our feelings of fullness, satisfaction, & satiety.
For most modern people, chewing is an unconscious reflex, or a subconscious habit. We take a bite, start to chew, & the rest takes care of itself. The problem is we often swallow far too quickly out of our eagerness to feel satisfied.
The habit of improper mastication & unconscious overeating has become “second nature” to most of us. To change those patterns, we want to allow adequate, unrushed time for peaceful periods of calm chewing.
If a gulper practices relishing each liquefied bite for just three weeks, they will feel as though they’ve been elevated to a new, higher plane of existence…
Health & well-being are encouraged whenever we:
- Take smaller bites of food
- Finish chewing & swallowing completely before taking the next bite
- Don’t use liquids as a replacement for salivary glands
- Eat sitting with good posture & breathing calmly through our nose
- Take 10 deep breaths before eating
- Always schedule enough time to eat; don’t hurry to finish
- When we eat, we eat; no driving, no emailing, no phone calling, no working, & no entertaining screen
- Avoid drinking around food. For ideal digestion, don’t consume liquid within 20 minutes of eating & for 2 hours after eating a meal (except a fruit meal)
- Don’t drink coffee after a meal, as it speeds up your digestion & can also cause heartburn due to its acidity
- Avoid fruits & sweets at the end of or after a meal. Sugary foods are digested quickly & will sit too long causing gas & bloating
- Eat more fermented foods like easy homemade sauerkraut & pickles, which contain digestive enzymes & beneficial bacteria
- Eat raw or slightly steamed vegetables, which contain higher amounts of enzymes & fiber, which are important for good digestion in a long tract such as ours
- Avoid exercising strenuously after a meal. Digestion requires energy, & it’s less efficient when you’re exercising
- Go for a walk after a meal
- Make chewing for longer a permanent mindset
How to Re-Start Your New Gut & Health
Our gut microbiome health is equal to our body’s state of health. When we make the decision to take control of our health, it can take a long time to allow our body to recover & thrive.
One of the fastest short-cuts to healing chronic disease is to replace your current intestinal bacterial strains with a much healthier regime as you change your dietary habits, especially after taking an antibiotic or other powerful medication.
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