Our health begins with the foods we eat. Nutritional absorption of food begins in your mouth. The amount of saliva you mix with your food before swallowing determines how much of that food will be absorbed later in your body. The first thing to begin doing better is to chew your food more thoroughly.
Horace Fletcher was well known in the late 18th and early 19th centuries for his lectures on chewing. He was known as the Great Masticator. His health was poor and through chewing his food more his health improved. The process of digestion begins when you are chewing your food. It sends signals to the digestive organs in the body to prepare for the food being eaten.
If eaten too quickly, food is not properly ground up for absorption. Our bodies do a pretty good job of extracting the nutrients from the foods we eat. We can help that process by chewing the food till the consistency of applesauce or simple mush. This allows the saliva to begin the digestive process. Why not gain more nutrients from the same foods we eat so that our health benefits as much as it can?
The second thing is to not drink a lot of liquid with your meals. Your stomach acid is released when food is being chewed. It prepares your stomach to begin its digestive process. About 400 to 700 milliliters of hydrochloric acid is delivered to the stomach for a typical meal.
The pH of the stomach approaches 2.0 as stomach acid is produced. pH is a measure of acidity. The lower the number the more acidic something is. Neutral is given the number 7.0 and anything greater than 7.0 is considered alkaline. The entire range is from 1.0 to 14.0.
Adding water or other liquids to the stomach when eating increases the volume in your stomach and changes the pH of the stomach acid. Water or other liquid taken while chewing tends to lubricate the food to make it easier to swallow. It is one reason why we drink while eating. It makes it easier to swallow.
If foods were thoroughly chewed then additional liquid would not be needed. Stomach acid would be allowed to do its magic with maximum pH efficiency. You would gain more nutritional benefit from the foods you ate. Our food choices are critical for good health. Why not maximize the nutritional gain from those choices.
There are some other benefits of chewing longer without additional liquid. Your stomach is prepped properly for the incoming food. The food arrives more slowly compared to gulping down your food. As such, your body responds more quickly to a feeling of satiety or fullness.
Your body responds to the volume of food you eat. You receive signals telling you that you have eaten enough. If you stop when you feel them, you generally eat less food. Most of the time we feel that momentary ‘full’ feeling and ignore it.
The first time I read about this signaling process I was skeptical. I ate my next meal anxiously awaiting the ‘feeling’ of being full before I finished a normal meal. It came to me as advertised – about half-way through that meal. I had felt this before but had always ignored it.
I use smaller plates when I eat. I’ve been doing this for several years. I put less food on the plate at a meal. I don’t always chew my food to the consistency of applesauce unless I am thinking about it at the time. I do, however, not drink anything with my meals. I drink thirty minutes before a meal and thirty minutes or longer after a meal.
As we age, our stomach acid concentration begins to wane a bit. Adding additional liquids during the digestive processes reduces our ability to gain the nutrients we need.
Consider chewing your food longer and enjoy the true taste of the food. Consider not adding extra fluids during your meals. These are two things that can be done immediately and might help you become a bit healthier and possibly even lose a few pounds also.