Not only what we eat and portion sizes define healthy eating – how one eats is also important. Are we eating too quickly, perhaps in a stressful environment, and thus not really focusing on chewing? Conversely, do we choose to allow time for our meals and eat in a relaxed way, and relatedly chew our food thoroughly. It's clear to everyone which of these is the better option, so the question is really how to break bad habits. Moreover, why should we be paying attention to chewing enough? These are the questions we're addressing today.
Foods that are more moist are naturally easier to digest, but they have a crucial disadvantage: They are often so soft or fluid that little or no chewing is required, thus they can end up being swallowed without really being chewed well. Normal foods that are more solid encourage us to chew enough, which activates the secretion of saliva. When the digestive enzymes that are contained in the saliva mix with what we're eating, both digestion and the absorption of nutrients are improved. That's the optimal way for our bodies to break down food. More fluid or soft foods are not optimally digested because they are often swallowed quickly, thus they are not mixed well with the enzymes that are in saliva.
Less solid foods can be more poorly digested
Proper chewing has even more advantages, and top among these is the improvement of the enzyme supply in the body. This results in the easier digestion of food in the stomach and intestinal tract, and at the same time fewer enzymes are used up by the digestive process. If some of the food eaten cannot be digested, it begins to decay and ferment in the intestines – that should not happen. The fermentation process produces various toxins (i.e. poisons) that in turn require a large quantity of enzymes to break down.
In addition, if the digestion of food is functioning poorly one can suffer with a deficiency of micro-nutrients or trace elements…even though they are included in the diet. One possible reason for this is the insufficient uptake of nutrients in the intestinal tract due to poor chewing habits.
Proper chewing makes you thin and healthy
Proper chewing is actually a very good way to lose weight, because eating in this way makes mealtimes last longer. As the level of blood sugar increases while we eat, thus reducing our appetite, the result is that we do not overeat. If you chew your food well, you end up feeling full more quickly. This means that you don't have to use a lot of willpower and self-discipline to reduce the amount of food that you're eating. You'll simply want to eat less.
Chew like this and change how you digest what you eat
So how does proper chewing work? Chew every bite you take 30 to 50 times. If the food is tougher or contains ingredients that are more difficult to digest, you can increase that number up to 70 times per bite. You don't have to sit there and count though, rather simply chew your food until it becomes so soft that it's almost effortless to swallow, i.e. it should almost "flow" from your mouth through your throat to your stomach. By chewing like this, the food will not only be perfect for digestion – chewing more also encourages your saliva glands to produce more saliva, which is in turn mixed even more thoroughly with what you are eating. The increased quantity of saliva that is combined with your food ends up being mixed with the acid in the stomach and the digestive secretions. In this way, the digestive process runs more smoothly.
If we refrain from overeating and take time for meals so that we chew our food well, the majority of the food will be completely digested and the nutrients contained will be absorbed by the body. At the same time, the risk of undigested food that has not been properly broken down ending up in the intestines where it can produce toxins is markedly reduced. If you follow our advice for proper chewing, the functioning of your stomach and intestinal tract will improve in just a few months.
Source: Dr. Hiromi Shinya, Living Without Disease
Dr. Hiromi Shinya is an internationally renowned digestive system specialist. He is a pioneer in the fields of gastroscopy and colonoscopy. He was a Professor of Clinical Surgery at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine, Medical Director of the Endoscopy Department at the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, and advisor to a number of clinics in Japan specialising in the stomach and intestines. In addition, he lead his own medical centre in New York that focused on digestive health. During his career he has worked with over 370,000 patients, including stomach and intestinal examinations, documentation of people's dietary habits and the development of nutritional recommendations based on his findings. He is now well over 80 years old.
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