Chewing, also known as mastication, is one of the most important movements you do multiple times a day for your entire life. Mastication is essential, as is the breath for the human body to attain health. Can you imagine not being able to chew? The satisfaction of biting into a delicious fruit or crunching into a super nutty salad is a truly gratifying experience. All your senses are activated. You touch, feel, smell, hear, feel and savor the texture, aroma, and flavor of the food with delight. Your taste buds tingle with the wondrous union of the food and your mouth. The relationship is a magical one that begins in that space, and we call this the start of digestion.
However, what is truly remarkable is that digestive action is already underway as one who is about to procure food is in anticipation of its presence. Likewise, the signals to the brain for food entry into the palate are firing away. This is a seemingly simple set of actions but is quite complex, involving sensory (neurological), endocrine, cardiovascular, pulmonary, skeletomuscular, and gastrointestinal activity. After that, the orchestration of the entire scope of all body systems plays like a concert allowing the nutrients to be propelled into the cells and the metabolized unused portions prepped for elimination.
For the sake of your health and well-being stop and sit down comfortably to appreciate your meal or snack.
But the key to the success of the entire process belongs to the act of chewing. A slow dedicated jaw movement to break down every piece of grain, seed, leaf, or flesh is what transmits a smooth bolus to the esophagus. This tube-like organ then carefully propels the food with coordinated smooth muscle action to the stomach. From there on, some serious digestive biochemistry works on the food that ultimately is absorbed into cells and organs, to build, repair, and maintain all of them. Without complete chewing, these digestive movements are not optimal, and the consequences can negatively impact the body. Let’s see how.
Improperly chewed food is harmful to the body for the following reasons:
- Large food particles cannot be properly acted upon by the stomach that can cause indigestion, gas, and bloating.
- Moreover, bacteria in large particulate food that is not enzymatically eliminated will pass down into the digestive tract and add pathogenic upset into the intestines. As a result, constipation or diarrhea can occur.
- Insufficient salivary enzymes will not adequately initiate carb and fat breakdown.
- Minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients are wasted if inadequate mastication has happened.
- Overeating will occur due to hurried swallowing and lack of satiety or fullness. It takes 20 minutes for the brain to feel full. Weight gain!
- The jaw bones are inadequately exercised, which can lead to reduced flexibility, plaque build-up with dental decay, and bone loss. Conversely, healthy chewing keeps the jaw in shape.
- Poor chewing and hurried eating set the stage for GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) — a problem that affects more than 44% of the US population.
So, it is for the sake of your health and well-being that you stop and sit down comfortably to appreciate your meal or snack. Plan for at least 20 minutes to eat. Chew slowly and thoroughly- 20-30 times per mouthful. See how different you feel. You will never regret the sensation of a well-digested meal.
Remember it is the chew-th of the matter.