Food is the gift of nature to us. Not only does it give us nutrition but also the energy required to perform our daily activities. We all have heard many a time that food is essential for survival. This has led to many people following diet charts, in which they include healthy meals in their routine. However, how many times have you thought about the process of eating too?
Today, we are so consumed by everything around us that we barely have time to sit down in peace and chew our food properly.
Chewing is not just the pre-requisite in the eating process but also has its importance in the world of nutrition. The beginning of food synthesis starts from ingesting food, which has a direct link with chewing.
Ancient wisdom reaffirms "You are what you eat." This means that our present state of being, our emotions, personal and professional relations, even our success in life can be attributed to the simple task of chewing food properly. Thus, chewing has been considered as a sacred act and deserves the respect that any divine procedure is authorized to.
What is chewing?
Chewing is a process that involves crushing of food and grinding it by teeth. As the first step of digestion, it does the following:
BREAKING DOWN:large pieces are broken down into small pieces that increase the surface area of food for the digestive enzymes to work.
PREPARING FOR MOVEMENT: the food is softened and transformed to make it susceptible to swallow.it lubricates the food by combining it with the saliva.
Why is chewing important?
What is common amongst some of the greatest individuals we've ever witnessed on this planet? Be Alexander or Gandhi – all followed a disciplined routine when it came to eating their food. This includes not just healthy but properly consumed food as well.
Human beings have to realize this fact that our brain and body are far more spectacular than we consider it to be! When we chew enough, our brain takes all the signals from saliva and digests carbs and sugar in the mouth. The saliva then sends signals to the brain to prepare our gut to secrete acids for proper absorption of food. This process ensures that our body can receive the right amount of nutrients from the food we consume.
Eating slowly makes one feel satiated and helps in maintaining our ideal body weight too. Imagine! What a simple task of chewing properly can do to our body.
On the other hand, when we eat in a hurry, the organic functioning of the body gets hampered and undigested food passes from small intestine to large intestine. This undigested food then rots in 3 hours and we are left with acidity or bloating issues.
Carbohydrate digestion starts when salivary amylase is secreted by glands near the mouth. It helps in the breakdown of the chemical bonds that consist of simple sugar-comprising starch. With each munch, glands secrete more saliva and as a result, more digestive enzymes fill your mouth and help the starch in the carbs break down properly. If food is not chewed properly, and large food chunks are present at the end of the digestion process, it leads to the undigested food become fuel for bacteria in the colon. This is the primary reason for indigestion symptoms such as flatulence, bacterial overgrowth and acidity issues. The first stage of fat digestion occurs in mouth as well with the secretion of lingual lipase enzyme. They are secreted by glands at the root of the tongue.
How to assess if you are chewing properly?
It is suggested to chew one’s food completely until it is mushy enough to be swallowed with ease. You can always follow this good rule of thumb: when you can differentiate between the taste and texture of food in your mouth; that means you’ve not chewed it properly.
Keep in mind, that human beings have been given teeth for a purpose! We are not reptiles that have to swallow our food in an instant. Instead, as intelligent beings, we ought to relish each bite so that it is absorbed in the body properly and gives us the required fuel for the optimal functionality of our body.
The concept of ‘Drink your food; Chew your water' took its inception in India. As a native from a land of such rich cultural and spiritual heritage, we should take it as our responsibility to teach our younger generation about the benefits of chewing properly.
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