Chewing (To chew, or not to chew)




We are bombarded by meal products that are "instant" or "quick". The impression we get is that having a meal is a chore that should be done as quickly as possible. Actually the opposite is true: we need to be relaxed when we eat so that nerve energy is distributed to the digestive system.


The action of chewing has several purposes:


• mechanically reducing the food into very small bits (a puréed state), preserving the delicate mucous layer in the digestive tract
• stimulating the excretion of saliva (containing enzymes that break down carbohydrates) and thoroughly mixing this with the food
• alerting the other digestive organs to the fact that food is on its way so that the production of different digestive enzymes, gastric juices, bile, etc. is set in motion
• allowing us to experience fully the taste of what we are eating
• adjusting to temperature of the food closer to body temperature


• slowing down the rate of food intake so the stomach has time to send a "full enough, thank you" signal in time
• giving us more time to consider how to respond to the mealtime conversation .


From the above list it is obvious that not chewing our food well enough contributes to poor digestion.


Some people like to chew chewing gum for long periods of time. Imagine how your body sets all systems in motion for the food it is expecting, only to find that there is nothing to digest except your stomach lining!


My take on chewing:


A beneficial way to use chewing gum may be a few minutes before and after a meal, preparing the body to digest the food and adding some extra chewing at the end.
• Even when having a smoothie or soup one should swish it thoroughly through the mouth, simulating the chewing action.
• Less eating, more chewing.


So choose your "chews" wisely until next time!