We all pop food into our mouths and chew and swallow it with little or no thought – it is as if we are on “automatic pilot.” Often, we may chew only enough to allow the food to pass down our throats, especially if we are in a hurry. There are several reasons we should slow down and chew our food properly…
-Digestion begins when the enzymes in saliva make contact with your food. Chewing longer allows these enzymes to work longer before the food is sent to your stomach.
-Chewing properly will break your food into smaller bits that are far easier for your stomach to process.
-Smaller particles of food are not only easier to digest, studies show that nutrients from smaller bits are more quickly absorbed by the body. In fact, larger particles are sometimes passed through the system without digesting, similar to dietary fiber.
-Large bits of improperly chewed food can remain undigested in your intestines, providing bacteria a potential feast. Action from the bacteria can cause intestinal upsets like abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, gas and bloating.
-Your teeth and jaws benefit from a good workout and your saliva helps to clear food and bacteria from your mouth.
-Because it takes your stomach about 20 minutes to register “full,” taking more time to chew and enjoy your meal may help to avoid overeating!
It may seem like a “no-brainer,” but here is a friendly reminder we can all take to heart:
• Take small bites of food and chew slowly
• Chew until the food is almost a “paste”
• Swallow each bite completely
• Drink after the food has been swallowed