You know that old saying “Chew your food 30 some odd times before you swallow”? Yup, turns out it’s completely true. Not chewing fully can lead to huge digestions issues such as indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s, ulcers, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), food sensitivities (e.g. Celiac; lactose intolerance) and even anaphylactic allergies.
Chewing slowly also allows your stomach to realize how full it really is. Downing food quickly always results in the “over stuffed” feeling. We are all guilty of this….over eating, becoming bloated…especially at parties with finger foods and hors d’oeurves or at restaurants. But it is best to stop eating when you feel about 80% full. Yes, you can all control this! It’s just a matter of being persistent. Food should be chewed to until it’s in a blended state. Take your time. Relax. Try not to eat in a rushed environment. Keeping food in your mouth longer is important for another reason. There’s a couple of enzymes in our saliva that help with the digestion process: Lysosome – help kill bacteria. And Amalyse – helps breakdown complex carbohydrates (breads, pasta, potato, rice etc.), so really give these a good chew!
So how do bad chewing habits lead to all these problems listed earlier? The following is my best explanation of the science involving our digestive system and immune system, and how they are connected.
So our immune system defense starts in our intestine. Antibodies are created to protect us from “foreign” molecules. Yes? But in order for them to enter the bloodstream, there are these tiny holes or “gap junctions” along our intestinal walls. This is called Intestinal Permeability. Covering these walls are mucosa cells acting as guards, screening all molecules from the intestines before allowing any to cross the threshold into our bloodstream, only allowing antibodies and properly digested food into our blood.
This clever system is unfortunately disturbed by a condition called Candida – which consists of an overgrowth of yeast – this results from poor diets, antibiotic use and/or an impaired immune system (e.g. HIV), but it can happen to anyone. It delays healing and leaves your system more open to disease development.
This yeast growth can interrupt the proper function of the mucosa cells, causing inflammation. Therefore, those gap junctions are no longer protected and undigested food and other toxins can seep through these tiny holes. Once they leave the digestion system and into the bloodstream (where no food molecules should ever be) our liver takes action and tries to fight these “foreign” bodies but ends up being overwhelmed. Eventually our immune system has to come into play and once it sees these weird, unknown molecules (the partial food particles, or undigested molecules) in the bloodstream, they are immediately labelled as virus molecules and antibodies are created against them. Now every time we eat those foods, our immune system see them as “virus” molecules and will attack, resulting in food sensitivities (and eventually allergies). This whole condition is called Leaky Gut Syndrome and symptoms include brain fog, headaches, sore throat, sinus issues, rashes, hives and eczema. Otherwise known as allergic reactions.
And that’s how chewing and proper digestion are related to the immune system and disease prevention!
Alright so I know that was a lot to swallow. But hopefully you can take the time to digest and really understand what goes on in your own body…and realize how important chewing is! Plus when we chew slowly, we can truly taste the beautiful flavours and combinations of all the wonderful foods we are so lucky to have. So take your time to enjoy your food. Chew, taste and savour!