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Why the Act of Chewing Your Food Can Benefit Your Overall Health

#balance #balance #wellness #chewing #functionalnutrition #holistichealth #womenshealth chewingfood Jun 26, 2023

Chewing is something most of us don’t really think about too much. You put food in your mouth, and you chew, right? But have you ever counted the number of times that you chew your food? How many times do you think the average person chews their food? The answer: three. That is it. Chomp, chomp, chomp, swallow. What if I told you that the number of times you chew your food has an enormous impact on your health and could help alleviate things like digestive issues and low energy. Plus, it will assist in the proper absorption of important nutrients that your body needs and help take off those unwanted pounds.  Yes, just the simple act of chewing our food appropriately have all these benefits for your overall health. Let’s take a look at why the act of chewing your food can benefit your health.  

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Your Digestive System

Digestion starts before our food even hits our mouth. Just the smell and appearance of food that we like will have your saliva begin to increase, which is especially important for our digestive process. The act of chewing sends a signal to our brains that the body needs to start preparing to digest food. This also increases saliva production and promotes the secretion of certain hormones to be activated, as well as our taste receptors. Our stomach lining then starts to prepare, as well as our pancreas, so that it can begin secreting enzymes. These enzymes are super important for breaking down food and molecules so that our digestive system can absorb all the important nutrients that we require for optimal health and wellness.  

All this happens during the chewing process, so if you are only chewing 3 times, the process doesn’t have a chance to complete before you swallow your food. Basically, chewing your food has 3 main functions:

  • Reduces particle size of your food
  • Helps mix the food thoroughly with saliva, while expelling air
  • It increases the surface area of the food to allow all the digestive enzymes to break down the molecules and allow our digestive system to absorb adequate nutrients

Chewing to Aide with Digestion Issues and Bloating

When we chew our food adequately, we are exposing our food to saliva. This lubricates the food to pass through our esophagus, as well as presenting enzymes that are essential for proper digestion. When mixing our food with saliva, we form a bolus that can easily be swallowed. If your food is well chewed, it glides easily into the stomach. When it is in larger pieces and dry, the food has a more unnatural journey, making the entire digestive process work much harder. Digestion itself is the most stress we can put on our bodies every day.

Chewing Relaxes Muscle

 Another element that makes saliva such an important factor is that it has its own PH buffering system. Our saliva secretes bicarbonate and the enzyme anhydrase. This maintains the proper PH balance of that bolus so that digestion is optimal. This also influences our taste buds from apoptosis (cell death). A lower PH will also change the microbiome, as well as cause tooth decay. Chewing will also relax the muscles at the base of the stomach, allowing them to pass to your small intestine. This is all the mechanical part of digestion.

So how about the chemical aspect? As mentioned, the act of chewing will release those important enzymes and hormones needed for the proper breakdown and absorption of nutrients. During the chewing process, your digestive system is alerted to start its engine. The longer you chew, the more time the system must be chemically alerted to get the job done. This will also aid with problems of gas and bloating, as well as abdominal pain.

The more you chew your food, such as a complex carbohydrate, the sweeter it becomes. This happens because the enzymes in your saliva break down the complex carbs into sugars and release more of the nutrients for absorption. This can help those of us who have sweet cravings. Simply chewing your food longer can benefit your health!

Chewing and Weight Loss

So I know you are wondering, how does chewing my food help me to shed pounds? Well, here’s the deal. Chewing is the easiest way to slow down a meal. Consider this; It takes 20 minutes for your body to realize it is full. If you are sitting down and shoveling in your food in 8 minutes, you never have time to realize that you are feeling full and that it’s time to stop. When you are increasing the mealtime, you can look for that cue that you are satisfied with, preventing you from overeating and being uncomfortably full. Taking in too much food at once slows down the digestion process. And, it decreases the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and to break down and remove waste. 

In the end, we end up on a blood sugar roller coaster, and we store more fat. We also put more stress on our bodies than necessary. The idea here is to eat until you are 75% full. This will increase the body’s ability to absorb the nutrients needed for proper function. Then, when you sit there for a few moments, that signal of feeling satisfied will come across, and you decrease the risk of feeling sluggish and foggy from that food coma. Also, remember those enzymes I mentioned being excreted as you chew, they will also help you feel fuller and more satiated.

Ok, so now you have slowed the meal down with the act of chewing. This promotes a healthy weight with the proper breakdown, getting the needed nutrients to where they need to be, increasing your energy. With more energy, you will naturally be more active and move your body more. This is a win/win.

Chewing for Increased Energy

As I mentioned, digestion takes a lot of energy naturally. Still, when we are putting less work on our digestive system, we are freeing up the extra energy needed for the act of digesting unchewed food. You could spend that energy elsewhere. Basically, you’re taking back that energy for other things. Furthermore, you are getting better absorption of those important nutrients because your digestion becomes more efficient when you adequately chew your food. This will lead to feeling lighter and more energized.  

So how many times should you chew? There really is no magic number here. The exercise I typically give my coaching clients is to start counting 15-20 chews, at least one meal to start. This may seem like overkill, but what this will do, is retrain your brain to chew more. Over the course of a week or 2, you will automatically be taking the time to chew without having to count.

We can be eating the most nutrient-dense food in the world. But if our digestive system is not utilizing those nutrients, that kale salad means little. Chewing is the first step to getting your digestive system working to the best of its ability. At the same time, this will increase your energy, helping to balance your blood sugar. Ultimately this will lead you to shed those pesky pounds that have been so hard to shed.

How Many Times Are You Chewing?

So I encourage you, at your next meal, to start being more mindful of how many times you are chewing your food. Start with one meal a day, if every meal seems too daunting, but start somewhere. Once you count the number of chews for a week or so, you will become more accustomed to chewing more, and ultimately, slowing down that meal. This will not only benefit your health. It will also allow you to really enjoy the foods that you eat, as your taste buds will be enhanced. This is something I focus on in my private coaching practice right from the beginning. Chewing food can benefit your health!

For more tips on how to eat for more optimal nutrient absorption and better health, grab the guide below. Want to discuss how to nurture your health and wellness from the inside out, while exploring the right way to do it for you? Book a FREE coaching call with me here and let’s talk about how chewing your food can benefit your health!

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