I have always emphasised how chewing enough really matters and now having recently read the book The Dental Diet by Dr. Steven Lin I realise that it has even more roles to play.
Chewing helps us break down our food so it can pass through into the rest of the digestive tract. Taking time to chew food thoroughly allows our bodies to prepare the food to get the most nutrition from it and to allow our various processes to fire up and be ready to play their part.
While the food is being chewed in our mouth the saliva is released which neutralises any harmful bacteria on the food to prevent it entering our gut. This can help reduce acid reflux, improve digestion, reduce gas and bloating.
During this time the signals are sent to the stomach to prepare to receive food so gastric juices are all set to get to work allowing the correct enzymes to be available to digest the food and extract the maximum amount of nutrients.
The taste buds are activated while we chew, and this signals the brain that the food is tasty so we should swallow it. With raw and wholefoods more taste is released the more we chew. But of course, a lot of processed foods don’t need much chewing as the taste is all on the outside rather than inside, so it can lead to swallowing too early.
Reducing the desire for processed foods
To help reduce the craving or desire for processed foods spend some time chewing them well and it will soon be obvious that apart from the first few chews it is actually tasteless. This can help us make better food choices.
And by taking our time over chewing we also allow our body to figure out whether we are actually full so it can tell us to stop eating before we have overindulged.
Strengthening and toning the jaw
We use the muscles around our jaw and cheeks to chew and the more we use them the better strength and tone. This can help keep us looking younger.
But even more importantly, as Dr Steven Lin says in his book The Dental Diet:
“The jaw is a biomechanical joint that requires stimulation to develop properly and stay healthy and strong. The muscles, joints and bones in the face form the support structure for your airways. So, exercising your jaw also helps keep your airways healthy”.
This just emphasises even more to me how important it is to chew!
Think about how little you would chew a pastry or cake in comparison to a raw carrot or celery stick, or chicken fillet versus meat on the bone. Pulling meat off the bone with our teeth is not something we do very often these days.
So how many chews is a good benchmark?
I try to aim for at least 30 chews PER MOUTHFUL! You can see how that slows down eating, which is vital for good habits. But of course, if it is more meaty or hard and fibrous then more chews are needed. I have done over 100 chews per mouthful on a particular meal.
So, don’t forget to add in a daily workout for your jaw and mouth with some raw fibrous foods at each meal, like nuts, seeds and raw veg.
And you don’t even have to go to the gym to fit it in!
Helping you be your best self!
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