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Checking Your Chew

The simple act of chewing slower can remarkably promote healthy digestion and demote a slew of conditions related to poor nutrient absorption. The common industry recommendation for chewing each bite of meat or fibrous vegetables is up to 30 times, half as much for fruits and soft foods. Have you ever counted your chews? Likely, you've never thought about it.

Taking more time with your food is a mindful practice with huge health benefits. Imagine decreasing or eliminating abdominal discomfort from gas, bloating, pain, distention, constipation, diarrhea, and heartburn by chewing longer. That'll save a few co-pays! Consider the possibility that if you chew more, you may eat less, and lose weight. Incentive enough for some of us. Allow your brain enough time to recognize you are no longer hungry. Giving the hormones leptin and ghrelin, which control your levels of satiety, permission to work in a more balanced, efficient way is a valid and persuasive reason too. Pre-digestion created through the process of slowing your chew takes a large burden off your system. Digestion, assimilation, and conversion are leading sources of energy consumption in the human body. Chew more so your saliva can wash out food particles that would otherwise be stuck around your teeth. And if that weren't enough to slow your roll, chewing more can curb your burping or belching caused by swallowing air along with your food. You may even bite the inside of your cheek less often. (another unfortunate byproduct of mindless eating).

More chews will liquify and decrease the volume of food available for that long anticipated swallow. Some of the particles will emulsify with amylase and slide down your throat in the process. This is perfectly normal and I don’t recommend trying to stop the sympathetic nervous systems’ automatic need to swallow. Check your chew, but avoid the choke. Simply chew slowly, feel the food particles get smaller, feel the salvia mixing with your food, and taste the texture, temperature, and sweetness of your food. To the sugar-lovers reading this, food tastes sweeter as it is chewed. The enzyme amylase found in saliva breaks down starches into sugar. So the answer to "when does a potato taste like a snickers bar?" is, well never, but it might taste like a sweet potato if you chew it long enough.

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