Free? For reals?
First: info. There are tons of ways to improve digestion leading to a healthy microbiome, an internal complex ecosystem of bacteria located within our bodies. It is defined as a “community of microbes.” The vast majority of the bacterial species that make up our microbiome live in our digestive systems.
Dr. Axe agrees, "the importance of our gut microbiome cannot be overstated: Poor gut health can contribute to leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune diseases and disorders like arthritis, dementia, heart disease, and cancer, while our health, fertility and longevity are also highly reliant on the balance of critters living within our guts."
We need fermented foods, pre + probiotics, an anti-inflammatory diet and resveratrol just to name a few. But today let's focus on something we do already - chew!
When it comes to increased health, it’s not just what we eat but how we eat. Digestion actually begins in the mouth, where contact with our teeth and digestive enzymes in our saliva break down food. But these days most of us rush through the whole eating experience, barely acknowledging what we’re putting in our mouths. We eat while distracted - working, reading, talking and watching TV - and swallow our food practically whole. On average we chew each bite only eight times. It’s no wonder that many people have digestive problems.
There are many great reasons to slow down and chew your food:
• Saliva breaks down food into simple sugars, creating a sweet taste. The more we chew, the sweeter our food becomes, so we don’t crave those after-meal sweets.
• Chewing reduces digestive distress and improves assimilation, allowing our bodies to absorb maximum nutrition from each bite of food.
• More chewing produces more endorphins, the brain chemicals responsible for creating good feelings.
• It’s also helpful for weight loss, because when we are chewing well, we are more apt to notice when we are full. It takes about 20 minutes for our brain to tell our body it's had enough. Think about your last meal. Did you eat it in less than 20 minutes? Then you most likely overate.
• In fact, chewing can promote increased circulation, enhanced immunity, increased energy and endurance, as well as improve skin health and stabilize weight.
Try eating without the TV, computer, or phone. Instead just pay attention to the food and to how you are breathing and chewing. I know when I am distracted (even by the kids which we can't really help a lot of the time), I barely remember eating. But I have been trying to been more conscious through the chaos.
You can experience the benefits of chewing by increasing to 30 chews per bite. Try it and see how you feel!
Sources and Additional Reading:
Institute for Integrative Nutrition, 2010.