The last time you had something to eat, did you give any thought to how long you chewed? Most likely not, as chewing is done, for most people, almost as a habit or unconscious reflex. As soon as a piece of food enters your mouth, you chew and swallow, probably far too quickly (especially if you’re in a hurry or eating on the run).
The chewing process, also known as mastication, is actually extremely important, however, and serves as the first step in your digestive process. The way you chew, including how long you chew, can significantly impact your health in ways you likely never knew…
7 Reasons to Chew Your Food Properly
1. Absorb More Nutrients and Energy From Your Food
Chewing breaks your food down from large particles into smaller particles that are more easily digested. This also makes it easier for your intestines to absorb nutrients from the food particles as they pass through.
This also prevents improperly digested food from entering your blood and causing a wide range of adverse effects to your health.
Recent research presented at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo in Chicago showed, in fact, that when participants chewed almonds longer, the smaller particles were better and more quickly absorbed by the body.
In those who chewed less, the larger particles were passed through the body, while also providing opportunistic bacteria and fungi with a source of fuel during their transit. Purdue University professor Dr. Richard Mattes explained:1
“Particle size [affects the] bioaccessibility of the energy of the food that is being consumed. The more you chew, the less is lost and more is retained in the body.”
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight
The longer you chew, the more time it will take you to finish a meal, and research shows that eating slowly can help you to eat less and, ultimately, to avoid weight gain or even lose weight. For example, chewing your food twice as long as you normally would will instantly help you control your portion sizes, which naturally decreases calorie consumption.
It takes time (generally about 20 minutes) for your brain to signal to your stomach that you’re full, and this may explain why one study found people reported feeling fuller when they ate slowly.2 They also ended up consuming about 10 percent fewer calories when they ate at a slow pace, and presumably chewed slower, as opposed to when they were rushing.
3. Your Food Gets More Exposure to Your Saliva
Saliva contains digestive enzymes, so the longer you chew, the more time these enzymes have to start breaking down your food, making digestion easier on your stomach and small intestine. One of these enzymes is lingual lipase, an enzyme that helps break down fats, for example. Saliva also helps to lubricate your food so it’s easier on your esophagus.
4. Easier Digestion
The chewing process predigests your food into small pieces and partially liquefies it, making it easier to digest. Digestion is actually a very demanding task for your body, requiring a great deal of energy, especially if forced to digest improperly chewed food. Chewing properly allows your stomach to work more efficiently and break down your food faster.
5. It’s Good for Your Teeth
The bones holding your teeth get a ‘workout’ when you chew, helping to keep them strong. The saliva produced while chewing is also beneficial, helping to clear food particles from your mouth and wash away bacteria so there may be less plaque buildup and tooth decay.
6. Less Excess Bacteria Lingering in Your Intestines
When large particles of improperly chewed food enter your stomach, it may remain undigested when it enters your intestines. There, bacteria will begin to break it down, or in other words it will start to putrefy, potentially leading to gas and bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, cramping and other digestive problems.
7. Enjoy and Taste Your Food
If you rush through your meal with hardly any chewing, you’re also not really tasting or enjoying the food. When you take the time to properly chew your food, it forces you to slow down, savor each morsel and really enjoy all the flavors your food has to offer.
How to Chew Your Food Properly
The way you chew is unique to you and is probably deeply ingrained by this point in your life. In other words, you’ll likely need to make a conscious effort to change the way you chew, but the good news is you can start with your next meal. There are many theories about how many times you should, ideally, chew each piece of food. The Times of India recently highlighted Horace Fletcher, a late-1800s health-food guru (also known as “The Great Masticator”) who was famous for chewing each bite 100 times before swallowing (and to this he attributed his good health, strength and endurance).3
You needn’t be this strict, however, as the amount of chewing a food requires will obviously vary depending on its type and texture. Here’s a guide to ensure that you’re chewing in a way that will support your health. Generally speaking, you’ll want to eat in a relaxed, non-distracted environment; eating on the run or while you’re working or watching TV is not conducive to proper chewing.
- Take smaller bites of food to begin with (it’s easier to chew smaller morsels)
- Chew slowly and steadily
- Chew until your mouthful of food is liquefied or lost all of its texture
- Finish chewing and swallowing completely before taking another bite of food
- Wait to drink fluids until you’ve swallowed
The Dangers of Chewing for No Reason…
While chewing is essential when you eat, chewing without eating food can be counterproductive. When you chew gum, for instance, you send your body physical signals that food is about to enter your body. The enzymes and acids that are activated when you chew gum are therefore released, but without the food they’re intended to digest.
This can cause bloating, an overproduction of stomach acid, and can compromise your ability to produce sufficient digestive secretions when you actually do eat food.
Besides this, chewing gum can cause jaw muscle imbalances (if you chew on one side more than the other) and even TMJ or temporomandibular joint disorder in your jaw, which can be a painful chronic condition. I generally recommend avoiding gum chewing, but if you do chew gum, do so only occasionally or right before a meal when the acid and enzyme stimulation may actually be beneficial.
by Dr. Mercola
One of the first steps to eating healthier is understanding how to read food labels. It is important that you start looking at the ingredients label of everything (and yes, I mean everything) that you buy or eat. Sometimes we don’t know or even want to know so they may not alarm us as they should.
In our webinar, Food & Nutrition 101: How to Read Food Labels, we will guide you in understanding everything that is on the back of food packaging from nutrition facts, food origination, and ingredients.
Click HERE to view all of our FREE upcoming webinars.
By David Zinczenko
5. In Spain . . . They eat slowly:
A well-crafted meal takes time to appreciate. After all, the quicker you swallow, the less time food has to tantalize the tiny flavor receptors on your tongue. Spaniards know this—and they know that food is meant to bring together friends and family—which is why they pioneered the notion of tapas. Tapas are small dishes meant to be consumed slowly and conscientiously. When Spaniards eat tapas, they take breaks between bites. They chew slowly and break for conversation. And as it turns out, that helps them shed flab. Researchers at the University of Rhode Island recently found that the average BMI of slow eaters is markedly lower than that of fast eaters. The reason, most likely, is that eating slowly gives your stomach time to tell your brain that you’re full.
4. In Italy . . . They value quality over quantity:
When most Americans think of food value, they think of Chinese buffets, unlimited breadsticks at Olive Garden, and endless fries at Red Robin. But the Italians view things differently. An endless supply of food means nothing if said food is cheaply made and loaded with unsavory processed ingredients. Think Italians eat jarred marinara? Of course not. They crush up tomatoes and simmer them alongside herbs, garlic, and olive oil. It’s a quick recipe built on high-quality, natural ingredients. That means nothing unpronounceable and nothing prepared in a lab.
3. In Greece . . . They focus on produce:
So attuned to a meat-and-potatoes diet are most Americans that we’ve allowed french fries to become the most popular “vegetable” in the country. But in Greece, a Mediterranean country, vegetables dominate—and legumes, whole grains, and healthy fats play powerful supporting roles. Now here’s why we should follow suit: Penn State researchers found that people who stick to high-produce diets eat more food, but weigh less.
2. In Latin America . . . They eat seasonally and locally:
Picture a strawberry harvested in June, trucked across the country, and stored in a warehouse for eight or nine months. These are the berries in your supermarket right now. Not only are they bland and starchy, but it’s quite likely that they’re also nutritionally inferior. The USDA suggests that it’s much more likely that food grown within 100 miles will make it from vine to plate faster and retain more nutrients than its conventional counterpart. Latin America is loaded with local produce, which means plenty of fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables and regional food cultures unmatched by anything in the United States. Follow their lead: Head to www.LocalHarvest.org to find a farmer’s market in your area.
1. In France . . . They tune out all distractions :
Plenty of American dinners take place in front of the TV, but for the French, a meal is an event, and the television is nothing but unwelcome competition. No wonder they’re thinner: In a study published in Physiology and Behavior, subjects consumed 71 percent more mac and cheese when they ate in front of the TV. What’s more, the French are far more likely to plan their multi-course meals in advance. A Dutch study found that people who think ahead about their next meals have greater success with weight loss.
by Dr. Mark Hyman
With all the new diet trends that seem to spring up, it’s not surprising many people are confused about what to eat. Most diets that promise optimal health and weight loss have their good points. But at the end of the day, all diets use a gimmick or trick to make you focus on how to change your eating habits to be healthier. They’re each based on ideas like eating certain foods at a certain time or cutting out certain foods.
What works best is really very simple: eating real food; cutting out junk, sugar, and processed foods; and eating sensible portions.
If you look at the science of metabolism and weight, it says these basic things:
- We should stop the SAD diet (or Standard American Diet, which is heavy in processed foods, meat, dairy, flour, and sugar)
- We should eat more whole plant foods (veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains—not whole grain flour)
Be a “qualitarian.” Focus on eating quality, real, whole foods instead of processed, industrial food, sugar, flour, dairy, and meat. It’s easy to binge on the bad stuff. The average American drinks 57 gallons of soda per year and many can drink two 20-ounce sodas in a day. But it’s hard to eat too much broccoli. Good luck trying to eat the equivalent amount of broccoli in a single day. That would be 15 cups! So, go ahead and eat plenty of the good stuff—there’s always room for more.
The Importance of Both Diet and Exercise
But if you’re eating a bad diet, exercise is not enough. If you have one 20-ounce soda, you have to walk over four miles to burn it off. If you eat a supersized meal, you’ll have to run four miles every day for a week.
By Huffington Post
Ron Finley is a successful clothing designer and artist from Los Angeles whose life got a little dirtier when he realized something strange about his neighborhood.
He found that South Central, Los Angeles was overwhelmingly filled with “Liquor stores. Fast food. Vacant lots,” but had no great place to get fresh, affordable produce. “People are losing their homes, they’re hungry, they’re unemployed, and this area is so underserved with nutritional food.” Finley was quoted as saying.
Since he’d just taken a course on gardening at the Natural History Museum, he decided to put his newfound knowledge to good use and planted a garden in a small strip of grass by his house with the help of his teacher, Florence Nishida and some friends.
Even though Finley used a small plot of land, about 10 feet wide, 150 feet long, the city still gave him a citation, which eventually turned into a warrant. His garden, filled with tomatoes, peppers and chard, celery, kale and herbs, had been deemed illegal.
Luckily with the help of LA Green Grounds, a charity he co-founded to help spread gardens throughout Los Angeles, Finley managed to overcome the citation, with the additional encouragement of his councilman, Herb Wesson. LA Green Grounds continues to help communities acquire gardening skills and grow their own produce, “And it always amazes me how planting a bunch of seeds or plants really can change someone’s life as they watch it grow, and then harvest it. I’ve seen people light up and literally change before my eyes.” Finley explains.
“Growing your own food is like printing your own money,” Finley said in his TED talk. He has educated his community in the importance of gardening as a sustainable, cost-effective and healthy activity in the hopes the can help turn these “food deserts” into “food forests.”
Finley perfectly sums up the significance of his gardening movement with this very promising observation: “If kids grow kale, kids eat kale!”
Clearly you’re interested in attaining a healthy weight — you’re reading this article, aren’t you? One motivation may be the hope that you’ll feel better about yourself once you’re carrying less baggage. But the baggage you’re toting around in your head may be what’s keeping you from moving forward. Maybe you’ve tried to lose weight before and didn’t reach your goal. Maybe you did reach your goal and then regained the pounds. Perhaps you’re worried about how your friends and family will react, or whether your age makes it too difficult to lose weight. Or maybe you just feel it’s too big a task to take on.
Prepare for Change
Whether you’re contemplating a weight-reduction program, preparing to go on one or ready to take action, it’s common to experience some level of fear or discomfort. “Change is uncomfortable,” says Scott Bea, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Psychiatry and Psychology. “As humans, we’re motivated to avoid discomfort.” Adopting new, more healthful behaviors does, of course, mean revising many of your current habits. So first and foremost, don’t criticize yourself for being worried about those changes.
You’re Worth It
“Part of the difficulty in achieving a healthy weight is that people often don’t think they’re worth it,” says Jane Ehrman, MEd, CHES, a mind-body medicine specialist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine. As you gear yourself up to adopt healthier habits, valuing yourself is essential. “It’s hard to motivate yourself from a place of self-loathing,” Dr. Bea points out. You also need a safe environment in which to try new behaviors. “If you’re self-accepting, you’re in a better spot to make changes,” he says. Remember that it’s your behaviors that need to change — not you as a person. How do you create this warm, welcoming place for yourself? A beginning step, Dr. Bea says, is to “just practice counting what’s right about yourself.”
Applaud Your Efforts
Self-acceptance also means forgiving yourself when you make a misstep. We’ve all been there: We make one mistake and give up. In fact, Americans, as a whole, focus on outcomes instead of the effort, and that sort of outlook can undermine attempts at behavioral change. “Be faithful to the effort,” Dr. Bea counsels. “Outcomes will take care of themselves.”
Setting reasonable goals is critical to managing the effort and keeping yourself from falling prey to self-criticism. If you develop goals that are unreachable, a surprisingly common occurrence, you set yourself up for failure. Instead, establish a series of small goals that are measurable and attainable in the short term. For instance, don’t say you’re going to lose 20 pounds by a certain date; instead, set your target as going on a walk or getting on the exercise bike for a half hour each day. Daily incentives, Dr. Bea says, are a good way to remain motivated and to feel good about yourself — for example, when you take that walk each day, put a dollar in a cookie jar for yourself.
Another thing to watch out for is the power of negative thoughts. As Ehrman points out, we’re often “stuck in our heads, recalling bad memories or anticipating negative events.” In other words, don’t dwell on past attempts at weight loss or worry about ways you might not succeed now. As the saying goes, “Just do it.”
If you are trying to improve your health or drop a few pounds, think beyond superfoods and supplements, because this “super-drink” deserves your attention. The things we chew are not the only dietary factors that contribute to weight management, disease fighting, energy boosting and stress reducing. Consumed for thousands of years, tea has provided delicious medicinal benefits to many cultures around the globe. Studies show that the components found in such a small little teabag can do wonders for your health. Drink up – your overall health is about to get a lot better!
Tea can help you in maintaining a healthy weight. A 2011 study in the Journal Obesity found that mice fed a high fat diet and given compounds found in green tea gained weight at a slower rate than mice that were not fed the same compounds. The findings from this study suggest that green tea extracts may actually interfere with fat formation in the body. As a side note: green tea extracts should not be confused with bottled green tea drinks that may be full of added sugar. To get green tea extracts, opt for the real deal — boiling water with a good old-fashioned teabag or loose tea!
Green tea may help you see better. The eye, like any part of the body, can suffer oxidative stress — making it more prone to disease. What if you could just add some green tea to your daily diet regimen to combat this? A 2010 study found that components in green tea positively affected the tissues of the eyes, especially tissue related to the retina. Drink on green tea lovers and protect your precious eyeballs!
White tea can help you look younger! White tea has a very high polyphenol count (that means it’s really good for you), which deliver fabulously gorgeous benefits! A recent studydemonstrated that tea drinkers may have already found their fountain of youth — in their mug! In the study, extracts in white tea inhibited wrinkle production by strengthening elastin and collagen — two important factors in your chances of developing what both men and women fear the most — fine lines and wrinkles. White tea can keep your joints younger too according to this 2011 study.
Black tea can help to reduce stress levels. Stressed out? A cup of black tea may be just what you need. One study found that black tea actually helped in reducing levels of the stress hormones in study participants. The fun does not stop there — black tea showed yet another benefit related to stress: blood pressure. As stress goes up, blood pressure does too, putting us at risk for developing a heart attack or stroke. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that six months of black tea consumption lowered systolic blood pressure.
It may help you fight diabetes. A 2010 study reviewing a variety of caffeinated teas found that the caffeine in tea may help in reducing the overall risk of diabetes.
Tea can make your ticker stronger! One study found that green tea helped to improve endothelial function rather quickly after consumption but resist the urge to add milk to your tea if you are drinking for better cardiovascular health! That’s because the caseins in milk may actually decrease the cardioprotective benefits you get from tea according to one study.
The tea-takeaway. You can use tea bags or go loose, drink it hot or drink it cold. Either way, tea is fabulous — and so are all of its benefits. For all the tea veterans, keep drinking your way to good health! For those that have not yet embraced a tea-drinking habit, it’s never too late to start brewing a batch! Explore the various types, flavors, and brands to find your tea-mate.
Chia seeds are much more than the Chia Pet that we remember from back in the day. Although flax seeds receives much of the spotlight, chia seeds provides many more benefits than flax seeds. Chia seeds come from a plant related to the mint family and is typically grown in the southwestern part of the United States and Mexico. The Mayan word forchia is strength. Which should now come as no surprise that they are recognized as being one of the most powerful superfoods around. Yes, these little seeds pack an amazing punch by being great source of fiber, vitamins and minerals, proteins, greatest source of Omega-3, an loaded with antioxidants.
Unlike flax seeds, chia seeds are easily digestable providing with those EFA’s, fiber, antioxidants minerals, protein, and fiber that we need. Chia seeds have relatively no taste so it can be sprinked on foods such as salads, cereal, yogurt, smoothies.
One to four tablespoons of dry chia seeds daily will offer you these benefits:
Weight loss: Chia seeds can act as an appetite suppressant making you feel full before consuming an entire meal. This happens because when chia seeds are exposed to water, the size and weight of the seed expands.
Diabetes Control: slows the conversion rate of carbohydrates into sugar. This ensures constant and steady energy throughout the day. Is also known to reduce the risk of Type II diabetes as well.
Excellent source of fiber: Each chia seed is covered with a layer of soluble fibers that aid in its gelling action. The external of the seed consist of insoluble fiber, which is not digested in the body and so does not add to the calorie content. This fiber helps in the smooth movement of food through the digestive tract and aids in its complete digestion. The soluble fiber and gel coating aids in keeping the colon hydrated and also ensures the effortless movement of food.
Herbal teas are renowned for their benefits but what benefits do herbal teas actually have and why are they so advantageous to our health? Read on to find out more.
What is Herbal Tea?
Herbal tea looks like tea and is brewed in the same way as tea, but it not actually a tea at all. This is because they do not come from the Camellia Sinensis bush, the plant from which all teas are made. Herbal teas are actually infusions, and are properly called tisanes. Tisanes are made from mixtures of dried leaves, seeds, grasses, nuts, barks, fruits, flowers, or other botanical elements that give them their taste and provide the benefits of herbal teas.
Unlike other forms of tea, herbal teas contain no caffeine. They also taste great and are easy to drink. Your herbal tea may consist of one main herbal ingredient or it may be a blend of herbal ingredients, designed to bring about a specific purpose, such as relaxation, rejuvenation, relief from a specific condition, amongst other things.
Noted Benefits of Herbal Teas
Firstly, it is important to note that there is a huge array of herbal teas available on the market – each one designed to have a specific therapeutic or medicinal benefit. However, there are some general benefits that can be obtained from herbal teas, and these include:
- achieving a more calm and relaxed state of mind
- supporting heart health
- aiding with stomach and digestive problems
- providing cleansing properties for the body
- promoting energy and wellness
- nourishing the nervous system
- strengthening the immune system
- providing antioxidants to the body
- boosting energy levels and invigorating the body
- relieving stress
- helping to avoid colds
- stimulating the internal organs
- promoting a good night’s sleep
- it is caffeine free and tastes great
Some Common Herbal Tea Ingredients
There are many different herbs that can be found in an herbal tea, each with a different use. Some common ones include:
- Allspice – helps to soothe the common cold and relieves upset stomachs
- Anise seed – aids digestion and freshens the breath. It can also soothe a cough and improve bronchitis.
- Chamomile – is renowned for its calming properties and is also said to be anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic
- Chrysanthemum – is sweet-tasting and is able to reduce body heat resulting from fever. It also helps protect against liver damage and neutralises toxins.
- Cinnamon – is calming and helps to support healthy circulation and digestion.
- Ginseng – stimulates vitality and helps the body stay healthy.
- Ginger root – is excellent for improving circulation, and is one of the best herbs for improving digestion, nausea, lung congestion, and arthritis.
- Hawthorne – strengthens the heart and increases blood flow.
- Lemongrass – is frequently used due to its calming properties.
- Parsley – is a diuretic and helps with kidney function.
- Pau d’arco – has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity against a wide variety of organisms including bacteria, fungi, yeasts (including Candida albicans), viruses (including herpes simplex types I and II, influenza virus, poliovirus and retroviruses) and parasites.
- Peppermint – is good for stress relief. It also helps with stomachs and digestive issues and helps to freshen the breath.
- Red Clover – use as a medicine for menopausal symptoms, cancer, mastitis, joint disorders, asthma, bronchitis, psoriasis and eczema. It is not recommended for children, pregnant or breastfeeding women.
- Rose hips – are a natural source of vitamin C and bioflavonoids. They are a liver, kidney, and blood tonic, and are a good remedy for fatigue, colds, and cough.
- Sarsaparilla – promotes energy and healthy skin.
- Slippery elm – helps to relieve stomach cramps and other gastrointestinal problems.
Making Herbal Tea
When you are making your herbal tea, use fresh, cold water. Do not use aluminium cookware as it can affect the taste. Use glass, cast iron, or stainless steel where possible. A tea strainer is very helpful as it lets you create your own blends of teas or herbs, and stops the leaves and flowers from escaping into the drink.
Once the water has boiled, add one heaped teaspoon of herbs for every cup of water. Cover and let the herbs steep for ten minutes. Do not over-steep the herbs as the flavor may become too strong and taste more medicinal rather than pleasant. If you want to enhance the flavor of your tea, honey or lemon can be great choices.
By Heidi Fagley, Natural News
With all the delicious foods to choose from during the holidays, and in spite of our best efforts to keep food indulgences to a minimum, there are times when we find that it’s nearly impossible to resist an extra helping of treats.
To deal with our temporary lack of constraint that can produce an upset tummy, here are some natural and inexpensive remedies to jump start your digestive system back into high gear.
Our digestive system is an important key to living a long and healthy life. Digestive function is made up of numerous organs working together to break down, absorb, and process nutrients in the food we eat. Without healthy digestion, the body can become malnourished and toxins may build up, leading to degenerative diseases.
Using herbs and whole foods is a simple way to support the natural detoxification organs of your body.
Below are some simple tricks to turn foods you already have in your cabinets into goldmines for the digestive system.
Caffeine-free herbal teas can reduce an uncomfortable, bloated system.
Warm and soothing, these medicinal leaves become digestive support upon contact.
- Peppermint - Used for centuries to ease the digestive system. Assists with dissipation of gas and indigestion.
- Chamomile - With anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties, the calming effects of this tea also help relieve stress, which is often linked to digestive problems.
- Lemon grass - Soothes the digestive system and calms the nerves.
Green juices are packed with nutrition. Drinking emerald sunshine enables the release of stored toxins throughout the system. Green juices can cleanse your digestive system, helping to move things along while providing an extra dose of readily available nutrients.
Start with vegetables that are gentle on your system like celery and cucumbers, adding a little apple to sweeten things up.
Pineapples contain the digestive enzyme bromelain, and papayas contain papain.
These natural enzymes support the digestive system in breaking down and absorbing nutrients from the foods we eat.
Consuming the fresh juice from these fruits can help relieve gas, upset stomach and occasional constipation and diarrhea.
Warm lemon water is used in many ancient remedies to alleviate digestive distress, support liver detoxification, normalize digestive juices, and reduce intestinal bloating.
Lemon activates the liver to release toxins and helps to cleanse and move any roughage that stays behind in the intestines.
Mix half of a juiced lemon with eight ounces of warm water. Drink upon waking on an empty stomach.
Spice It Up
Ginger stimulates digestion by speeding up the movement of food from the stomach into the small intestine.
Widely used all over the world for many digestive disturbances, ginger has been found to soothe the digestive lining and balance gastric juices, making it a great remedy for overeating.
Peel and slice a two-inch piece of fresh ginger. Add to three cups of boiling water. Brew for five minutes, strain and sip the tea slowly. You may add some natural sweetener to taste.
Naturally high in probiotics, foods such as raw sauerkraut provide beneficial enzymes that increase the digestibility of any food. This enhances lactic acid which in turn promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestines as well as preventing the growth of harmful bacteria and increasing nutrient absorption.
Even though the temptation to indulge may be more likely to occur during the holidays, these simple, natural remedies can promote healthy digestion any time of the year.
Do you have any of your own natural remedies or tips for managing seasonal overindulgences? We’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below.