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The Importance of Chewing Food for Digestive Health

Chewing is as simple as cramming a bite in your mouth, chomping down a few times, then down the hatch, right? Wrong! It’s actually a really important part of digestion, and if we don’t do it right, it could cause big problems.

friends sharing meal together
Photo by Fotolia/gstockstudio.

It may surprise you, but chewing does more than what meets the eye, or in this case, taste buds. When we take our time to munch up food, it becomes encased in saliva. Saliva, along with acting as a lubricant to send food gliding smoothly down our esophagus, contains enzymes that start breaking down all that delicious goodness into stuff our bodies can use. When food is chewed well, we don’t swallow as much air, which keeps embarrassing gas away.

If you throw back snacks faster than the county fair pie eating champion, you may also be missing out on vital nutrients. When food is left in partially whole form, our bodies can’t properly absorb essential vitamins or minerals. If you start doing more of the work in your mouth, it will make things easier on your belly, keeping it strong and healthy.

GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), ulcers, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and diverticulosis are occurring at alarmingly high rates, and it’s difficult not to blame the “fast” food mentality as a contributing factor. And we’re not just talking a cheeseburger with fries, I am talking choking that cheeseburger down without taking a breath.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15.4 million adults have been diagnosed with ulcers which, simply put, are holes in our stomach lining. WebMD states that cases of GERD, a condition that allows stomach acid to creep up the esophagus, have risen a shocking 50 percent over the last decade. WebMD also includes that 58 million Americans suffer from IBS. Half of people over 60 have diverticulosis, when pockets of the intestine become weak and bulge outward. I’d say statistics like that are great reasons to spend an extra 15 minutes at the table!

So when meal time rolls around, give yourself adequate time to eat. Cut food into smaller bites and chew until everything is ground well. Our busy schedules keep us from enjoying the simplest things in life, like eating. If we take time to focus on the smaller things, our lives will become more enriched.  Taste the flavors, enjoy the aromas, and notice yourself feeling more nourished and satisfied after each meal and snack.

Karyn WoffordKaryn Wofford is a type 1 diabetic, EMT and Certified Wellness Specialist. For years she has educated herself on wellness and natural, wholesome living. Karyn’s goal is to help people be the healthiest they can be while living fun, happy lives..