Mastication. (No, not that...read it again.) It's the grown-up word for chewing. It begins our digestive process and is a lot more important than you may think.
Experts suggest that we chew our food between 35 and 100 times per bite, but that whole counting thing can totally ruin the bliss of eating a piece of chocolate cake. Instead, try continuous chewing until the food is broken down enough (even to a liquid state) that it starts to slip down the system without you making an effort.
The more you consciously chew, the more connected you become to your food. Just like sourcing the freshest, local and organic ingredients can drastically alter the eating experience, so can the presence of mind and body in delivering this food to our being. The food we eat becomes a part of us in the most intimate way. That assimilation should only nourish and benefit our bodies, not create more work, stress and disease!
Read on for more benefits of properly chewing your food.
1. Better Oral Hygiene:
We don't often think of chewing our food as benefiting our mouth beyond the tasty-on-the-tongue factor, but not only can it make food taste better the more you chew, it can also increase saliva production, which helps to digest bacteria that can lead to plaque buildup.
2. Improves Digestion:
The more you break your food down in your mouth, the less work there is for your stomach and intestines. This can mean less gas and bloating and better elimination.
3. Decreases Risk of Food Poisoning:
Saliva is effective at killing food-borne pathogens that can cause serious illness and even death. The more you chew, the more you expose food to the anti-bacterial enzyme lysozyme in your saliva.
4. Better Nutrient Absorption:
The intestines will have an easier time pulling micronutrients out of well-chewed food than big chunks. The more you chew the more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids you provide your body.
5. Lose Weight:
The more you chew, the fuller you'll feel and the less likely you are to overeat. You'll allow the stomach time to signal the brain that it's full and stop eating. Stuffing ourselves to the point of discomfort is extremely common in Western culture and incredibly unhealthy. Chew slower, longer and feel better.
Chewing is actually relaxing. It forces you to slow down, focus on the act at hand and can reduce stress. It certainly reduces the stress on your digestive organs, too, and that can help prevent disease and discomfort.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
Image: Gracie and Viv