Chew Your Way to Better Health
How many times this past week did you glance at your watch, realize you were late for something, grab a snack or meal on the run and wolf it down while hurrying to your next appointment?
Although we can acknowledge that our society is too fast-paced and harried at times, the idea of eating on the run has been around for a while. Fast food, drive-throughs, and super-speed pizza delivery all support the practice of rushing through our meals – which unfortunately may be to the detriment of our health.
When was the last time you sat down and purposefully chewed your way through your food? For many of us, it’s a time luxury reserved for special dinners out or first dates. But, the exercise of chewing, also known as mastication, is a critical first step to the digestion process and taking it slow ensures you will start out – and finish – with better nutrition absorption, a healthier relationship with food and even a trimmer waistline!
Making a conscious effort to slowly chew your food more completely has significant benefits:
It helps digestion
You may not connect chewing to digestion, but it’s actually an important preliminary part of the process. As you chew, your secreted saliva coats the food with enzymes that start to digest it while it’s still in your mouth. Additionally, the smaller the particles of food that you swallow, the easier it is to digest them. Chewing your food until it’s almost liquefied (we know – that’s a lot of chewing!) ensures enzymes and stomach acid can properly dissolve all those particles.
It ensures nutrient absorption
Breaking down all those food particles is essential for distributing the proteins and nutrients they contain. Amino acids – which are what proteins are broken down into – promote repair and growth throughout the body and support healthy sleep, energy levels and brain activity.
It controls your weight
The longer you take to eat, the easier it is for your brain to signal to your stomach that you’re full before you wind up scarfing down half a chocolate cake at one sitting. Slow, purposeful chewing of your food allows you to taste it better, appreciate it more and truly stop when you’re satisfied.
It’s good for your teeth
When you chew your food into smaller particles, the bones and muscles around your teeth get a workout, which helps to keep them healthy and strong. Increased saliva also washes away bacteria which means less plaque build-up in your mouth.
So, how carefully should you chew your food? Try to take smaller bites to begin with, chew each mouthful until it’s lost all its texture and wait to drink fluids until after you’ve swallowed each bite. Chewing more slowly can remind you that food is meant to be savored and enjoyed – not eaten at full speed on the run
DC Smiles provides a holistic approach to dental care that incorporates total-body health and wellness. Learn more at DCSmiles.com.
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