The importance of chewing your food for optimal gut health is frequently overlooked. Still, the importance of chewing your food properly is one of the best and easiest ways to improve your digestion and prevent bloating and gas that is associated with poor digestion of carbohydrates. With so many people experiencing digestive problems, taking the time to chew your food thoroughly can significantly impact digestion and prevent digestive issues.
Some symptoms associated with not chewing your food enough include:
- leaky gut
- nutrient malabsorption
- food sensitivities
Eating on the run or when feeling stressed is one of the many causes of poor gut health and why people are not chewing their food enough.
The importance of chewing your food for optimal digestion of carbohydrates
Chewing your food is the first mechanical step in digestion and super crucial. Saliva contains the digestive enzyme amylase to break down the starch called amylose. Taking the time to thoroughly chew and mix your food with saliva until the food is liquified in the mouth will allow for sufficient surface area for the salivary enzyme to amylase to begin the breakdown of carbohydrates.
Carbohydrate malabsorption, SIBO, and bloating are common symptoms of not chewing food enough. Undigested carbohydrates provide fuel for bacteria ferment in the small intestine leading to increased bloating and SIBO.
Aiming to chew your food for a minimum of 20-30 bites while taking the time to enjoy your food will signal the brain and digestive organs to prepare for digestion and the release of digestive juices. If you notice any amount of undigested food in your stool, this indicates a need to chew your food more slowly and thoroughly or use additional digestive enzymes for support.
Bloating: a symptom of not chewing food enough
Bloating is a common symptom of SIBO and incomplete carbohydrate digestion due to not chewing food properly. Suppose there is a large amount of undigested carbohydrates in the small intestine. In that case, this provides an excess of fuel for our gut bacteria to feed and ferment upon, resulting in excess gas that causes bloating and indigestion. I cannot stress the importance of chewing food enough to ensure the breakdown of carbohydrates into small enough particles to be absorbed by the body and not fermented upon but gut bacteria.
When carbohydrates or any food is not chewed, the large undigested food can impact the gut lining and contribute to the gut lining becoming leaky.
The body does not recognize large undigested food particles. As a result, the body does not recognize the food as a nutrient that can be utilized and thinks the undigested food is a foreign invader (pathogen) and instead mounts an immune response against the unchewed food.
When the body creates antibodies to a specific food, that food will then become problematic and a source of inflammation due to the immune response when that food is eaten. Taking the time to chew your food slowly is the first step in preventing food sensitivities and leaky gut from developing by helping to ensure appropriate digestion and breakdown of foods into smaller particles.
The role of amylase in digestion
The enzyme amylase is needed to break down the more challenging to digest starch called amylose. Amylose is found in lower glycemic foods such as basmati rice, pasta, wheat, corn, oats, barley, most potatoes, and bananas. These foods are difficult to digest and absorb if the amylase enzyme is deficient.
If these foods high in the difficult-to-digest starch amylose are not properly broken down, they will provide fuel for bacteria to ferment on, thus worsening symptoms of SIBO.
Saliva contains the enzyme amylase, which helps to break down amylose. Still, the salivary enzyme needs time to work along with a surface area to work upon, so chewing your food slowly is so important, especially if you notice that these carbohydrate foods that are high in amylose are problematic for you.
Incomplete digestion of carbohydrates can contribute to a myriad of digestive symptoms. One of the best free ways to improve your digestion and absorption of carbohydrates is to sit down, enjoy your meal and chew your food properly. Swallowing your food without chewing can lead to digestive symptoms ranging from bloating, indigestion, heartburn, poor absorption of food, and much more.
The addition of digestive enzymes can be very beneficial for optimizing digestion and preventing bloating and the overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. If you know that you eat too quickly, on the run or when stressed out, the first step is to sit down, take a couple of deep breaths to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system required for digestion. You will avoid various symptoms of not chewing your food enough by simply taking the time to chew and enjoy your food. Your digestive system will be thanking you!
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