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Slow Down and Chew Your Food

“Don’t take such big bites!”  “Eat your vegetables!”  “Slow down and chew your food!”  Maybe you heard those words from your Mother while you were were growing up.  I know that I did.  As a child it sounded like momma was just nagging, and maybe she was, but it turns out to be good advice.  Research is showing you should Eat Slowly for Weight Loss.

Most of us think about food, A LOT.  What are we going to eat?  Where are we going to eat?  Who are we going to eat with?  Do we need to shop or cook before we eat and the list goes on and on.  Even though we spend so much time thinking about the food we are going to eat, or the food we just enjoyed, we seldom stop to think about what happens in our bodies after we eat, or why it matters.

Let me explain it this way.  Think of a symphony and all the different players that are involved.  It is like that in our bodies. It is complicated and beautifully precise.  Chewing is the first step of digestion and signals the rest of the digestive organs to prepare to play their parts.  As we chew the digestive enzymes, amylase and lipase, are secreted by the salivary glands and mixed with our food. Just like in a symphony, not all player are playing at the same time.  Chewing slowly gives time for the stomach to prepare to play their part by secreting stomach acids, mucus, enzymes, and bile.  Just an interesting fact.  The main acid secreted by the stomach is hydrochloric acid and it has the same pH as battery acid.  This not only breaks down our food but also destroys most of the pathogenic bacteria that we swallow with our food.

As partially digested food leaves our stomach and enters our small intestine it is mixed with alkaline bicarbonate – based fluid that originates in the pancreas and helps to neutralize all that stomach acid.  The pancreas also secretes the hormone insulin with is necessary to  digest carbohydrate.  The gallbladder stores bile, that is produced by the liver and aids in the digestion of fat.  The liver “inspects” most of our nutrients as well as pathogens and decides what to send on through our system for energy and what to destroy and eliminate from our body.

People eat food and not nutrients, so it is important to realize how different food choices affect our body.  For instance a glass of apple juice and a apple will both end up as glucose in our blood stream, however there are some key differences in their effects on our body.  Because of the higher fiber content in an apple it is eaten and digested much more slowly.  This results in less glucose being present in the blood at one time.  Less insulin is  released and less fat is likely to be stored.  The same comparison can be make between table sugar and whole wheat bread.  

Maybe you have heard the phrase “garbage in, garbage out” when referring to a poorly designed computer program.  Our bodies are no different.  Giving our bodies high quality, whole, live foods like fruits and vegetables does make a difference in our health and well being.  

So belly up to the table with someone you love and enjoy some great conversation and delicious food.  Chew slowly and let the symphony inside of you make beautiful music just for you.  Bon Apetit.!

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