November 10, 2014

293 Chew Your Food [10 Nov 2014]

Remember your mother telling you to chew your food? She was right, but probably didn’t know all the reasons for doing so.

We learned in school about amylase – the enzyme in our saliva that starts the digestion of starch. Chew an unsalted cracker for a few minutes and it will start to taste sweet as the starch breaks down into sugars (salt masks the sweet taste so it’s harder to notice with salted crackers).

Thoroughly chewing your vegetables mechanically breaks down the cell walls making the nutrients inside available for your digestive processes to work on. So you get more nutrients from the same amount of food.

Another reason is to convert nitrates from vegetables to nitrites which are in turn converted in the body to nitric oxide (NO) which works to dilate arteries and lower blood pressure. The conversion to nitrites in the mouth occurs when a certain bacteria which lives on our tongue and in our saliva is mixed with the nitrates in our plant food. Frequent use of antibacterial mouthwash, by the way, interferes with this process, lowering arterial NO levels and raising blood pressure. (See my recent columns #281 on August 18 and #288 October 6 for more on the importance of our microbiome, and #180 & 181 on Nitric Oxide in September 2012.)

Chewing raw cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) mixes two compounds – glucoraphanin and an enzyme myrosinase – to form sulforaphane, a powerful antioxidant with anticancer and antimicrobial properties. I wrote about the health benefits of eating raw broccoli in #184 (24 Sept 2012); this is another benefit.

Juicing your vegetables or making smoothies mimics the action of chewing, but does it much more thoroughly. It’s still important to chew your juice to mix in the saliva. Someone once advised “Chew your drinks (to mix in saliva) and drink your foods (by chewing them until they are liquid)”.

Source: Why You Should Chew Your Food Well (And Stop Using Mouthwash) by Dr. Joel Kahn,, 29 October 2014.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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