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The Digestive Process Starts in our Mouth

Importance of chewing more thoroughly and eating slower

 

In this era of fast-paced everything, even the act of eating a meal is something we feel that we should do on the run. Breakfast comes in power bars, lunch is eaten while speeding on the freeway, and dinner is merely a side chore while watching a video or squeezed between other pressing chores.

When wolfing down our food on the go becomes a chore, every meal inevitably becomes “fast food.” We are supposed to savor the food rather than swallowing it as quickly as possible.

Chewing our food thoroughly is the first step of the complex series of digestive processes. By chewing our food just a few times and hastily swallowing it actually compromises the first step of digestion. This is a mistake we all make, consciously or without even realizing.

Try to swallow a whole piece of chicken breast without chewing, and you will soon feel why chewing is important. Improperly chewed food leads to potential gas and bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, cramping and other digestive problems.

KETO salivary glandsBesides breaking up our food into manageable chunks, chewing has several good reasons.

  • The digestive enzymes secreted from our salivary glands (alpha-amylase and lingual lipase) coat our food and begin to digest carbohydrates and fats as we chew, before we even swallow it.
  • Chewing simply reduces our stomach’s work.
  • If we swallow un-chewed food fragments, not only do nutrients remain locked in the fragments, but these fragments create an environment in the colon that is conducive to digestive distress —bacterial overgrowth, gas, and bloating.
  • Chewing our food thoroughly also helps prevent improperly digested food from entering our blood and causing a wide range of adverse effects to our health.
  • Chewing our food thoroughly and eating our meals more slowly helps shrink our waistline —not just because we’ll have less bloating and indigestion. Eating slower gives our body a chance to tell our brain that it is full. We simply eat less when we eat slower.
It takes about 20 minutes for our brain to signal to our stomach that we are full. That’s why we feel fuller when we eat slowly.

We all experience that even just seeing food causes our brain to send signals to the pancreas and stomach to secrete digestive acids and enzymes that are essential to digestion. And the longer our food stays in our mouth in direct contact with our taste and smell receptors —the longer we chew each bite— the stronger these signals become. Strong signals mean more digestive molecules, less indigestion, less acid reflux, and superior nutrient absorption.

 

Practical tips for eating slower

Here are some practical tips for chewing more thoroughly and eating slower:

  • Give ourselves enough time to eat a meal —at least 20-30 minutes.
  • We need to strive eating without distractions, like the TV, computer, or while driving.
  • We need to be fully present while we eat. We notice the smell, temperature, texture, color, and subtle flavor of each food we consume.
  • We will strive to chew your food “twice as long” as we normally would. This will help us control our portion sizes, which naturally decreases our caloric consumption.
  • We take smaller portions, and take a break before refilling.
  • We put our fork down after each bite.
  • We eat mindfully, chewing each bite as many times as necessary to pulverize any texture.
  • If we’re eating with company, we need to be aware of the speed at which others are eating. We challenge ourselves to be the last to finish.
  • Besides all the health benefits, perhaps the most pleasant benefit of eating slow is that, we shall enjoy our food much more.

 

 

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