Digestion starts from the moment you place your food in your mouth
By Shmerah E. Keymah R.N.
Science has recently been reviewing the facts about chewing your food and there are some interesting reasons why you should take your time over dinner.
Digestion starts from the moment you place your food in your mouth. Your saliva produces an enzyme called amylase. All the simple starches in your food are broken down by this enzyme and carried into the bloodstream directly through the flesh in your mouth. The more you chew your food, the more completely this digestive process takes place. Chewing also cleans your food before it hits your stomach - saliva is antibacterial.
Chewing sends messages to your stomach about the nature and amount of food that is about to be digested.
If the stomach acids are not working sufficiently - which is often the case in those following a western-styled diet and gobbling it hastily on the run - food can remain in undigested clumps and move into the intestines where it rots and festers away, creating ill health.
According to university studies, chewing stimulates the endocrine system, keeping your hormones in balance for a happier, younger-looking you. In particular, the parotid glands just under your cheekbones release a cell-rejuvenating substance.
The more you chew, the more oxygen is sent to the brain. Scientists have also discovered that munching is magnificent for the memory. It may help keep dementia in the elderly at bay. It seems that the more you chew, the more short-term memory cells you develop. When people get older, they lose their teeth and start eating mushy foods. The short-term memory may be compromised because of this simple change in diet and behaviour.
So when is enough enough? How do you know when you've munched to the max? Advice from different health care practitioners varies from 32 to 100 chews.