A good Indian friend likes to tell me to chew at least 30 times – wisdom from his ayurvedic traditional medicine heritage.
As I pondered on this, it occurred to me that our mouths are the only place in our digestive tract where food can be broken down mechanically.
I’ve learnt that this mechanical process known as mastication (or chewing) grinds food down to increase the surface area for the next parts of digestion.
Food also mixes with saliva, which contain important enzymes and co-factors of digestion such as amylase for carbohydrate breakdown and haptocorrin which binds to B12.
This act of chewing also sends signals down the digestive tract to start secreting more digestive juices.
One last surprising fact is that the jaw movements from chewing your food actually cleans your ears!
It pushes out your ear wax!
Eating too fast or not chewing enough times means bigger chunks of food go down into your stomach.
Your stomach and the rest of the digestive system does not have any teeth to break down these big chunks.
So what do you think happens?
Stomach acid and other digestive secretions will have to do the job. But its a tough one.
Food that is not sufficiently broken down means nutrients that are not absorbed.
There’s also the risk of it putrefying (decay or rotting) as it undergoes that long journey down your digestive tract. Breeding bad bacteria.
Could that be causing smelly farts or other digestive issues?
Do you eat fast eater but chew little?