By guest blogger, holistic nutritionist and yoga teacher, Raj Barker.
Chewing is the most underestimated super power you and your body possess. Too little people are aware of the implications poor chewing can have on your health. Not only does it create a more-mindful, more-present eating experience (win) but it also takes a load off your digestive system and in-turn can aid weight loss, bloating, absorption of essential nutrients and overall good health.
Since the juice and smoothie culture bowled us over with their delicious combinations and powerful health claims, liquid meals and snacks are becoming a legitimate ‘thing’ in our diet. Personally, I think it is wonderful but all beverages should be sold with an instruction manual or at least a tag explaining that the consumer ‘MUST chew whilst consuming this liquid gold’, otherwise, the liquid seamlessly pours into our guts without any warning and the extent of the benefits are somewhat lost. The whole process of chewing is a signal to the digestive system that you have incoming traffic and to get those digestive enzymes fired up. This not only applies to liquids but also to solid food too.
The less you chew, the more work for your already slammed digestive system
Reasons to be a dedicated chewer
1. So often when we eat we are doing in ‘on the run’ whether you’re in the car, at your desk, even walking from A to B. By connecting to the process of chewing, we can create a meditation all of our own. Allow yourself to taste all the flavors erupting from your food, tune into the textures your food presents and even add a count to the chews you take per mouthful. Experts say we should chew each bite a minimum of 30 times before we swallow.
2. By chewing our food mindfully, we give the digestive system time to prepare for the incoming traffic that is your food. Chewing straight after a bite produces saliva containing digestive enzymes, which start to assist in the breaking down of food from the mouth, all the way down into the stomach. If you’re inhaling your food, there is no time for these enzymes to emerge, your belly has no warning of the food it receives and therefore has to work overtime to get it all cleared up. This is what can create bloating, gas and other digestion issues.
3. By being more aware of the food we are taking in, we tend to eat less, the body is more aligned with how full it is and receptors in the stomach have the chance to say’ “hold it right there – I’ve had enough’. By chewing more and allowing these signals to take place, often it can result in weight loss, or a clearer indication of foods that might be causing the belly upset.
4. By preparing the belly with some solid chewing action before you swallow, you also open up more opportunity for the body to absorb and digest the numerous nutrients your meal has to offer. When we rush and the body goes into overtime to sort out the food that has been dumped into your belly, often absorption mechanisms go out the window. Another reason to be super mindful when sipping on cold pressed juices and smoothies, you want to reap the benefits these tonics have to offer so get those chompers moving!
We’re frequently being reminded that when it comes to health, it is the small shifts that often create the biggest changes. Perhaps set yourself a challenge to take a minimum of 15 minutes with every meal to stop and tune in to the chew. Be patient and observe how your body responds, the results may surprise you.