....& MEDIA

Health tips

There is no medicine that can replace what you can do for your own health

Chew on this...

An easy tip that can have a huge impact on your digestive system is the simple act of chewing! Chewing is often underestimated, but it’s crucial for proper digestion.

Slow Down, Sit Down, and Chew, Chew, Chew.  This is what we call Eating Hygiene. The process of digestion actually begins in the mouth. So, eating hygiene is the first stage of digestion, and while chewing and swallowing are the only parts of digestion which you overtly control, absolutely everything downstream from there either thrives or suffers as a result.


Nowadays everybody is on the go or working on the computer while eating, so mealtimes are often a mindless exercise, which means that frequently, insufficient time is taken to chew the food properly. The average person chews each bite of food only six times before swallowing it down. Often with several gulps of water as a chaser. Many of us eat so quickly that meals feel like a race – an annoying necessity to put hunger at bay.


I like to teach my patients that meal time can be a meditation – a very real form of self-care and health-care. Go screenless. Slow down. Sit down. Breathe. Pay attention to what you’re putting in your mouth. Eating hygiene is also about relaxing and purposefully activating a parasympathetic nervous system mode so digestion is actually allowed to work.


Eating hygiene is not multitasking on something stressful while you’re eating so that your body is trying to figure out – “are we resting and digesting or are we running for our life? I’m not really sure.” As we know, given the choice, the body will prioritize the running-for-your-life part which shuts down digestion. It’s not surprising then when people feel indigestion or when they feel IBS symptoms.


Try to chew your food until it’s mostly liquid. Just by chewing your food 20-30 times per bite until it resembles baby food/puree and not drinking too much liquid with meals, significantly reduces the work that your stomach needs to do. When you chew your food well the stomach is more able to break it down into small building blocks like amino acids, fatty acids and glucose. If you don’t chew your food well it arrives to the stomach in larger particles and stomach acid is not equipped to be able to completely break these down, that is what you were tasked with/supposed to accomplish in the mouth. When these larger particles (unrecognisable to your immune system) enter the intestine which is where the majority of your immune system is housed, this can lead to inflammation. So much disease in the gut is the result of poor eating hygiene habits.


Chewing food until it’s quite liquid, also allows you to get far more enjoyment from your food. The longer you chew carbohydrate foods the sweeter they become. From a flavour and texture viewpoint, the fun part of food is while you’re chewing it. So why would you want that to be 10 seconds instead of a whole minute? Your brain also needs some time to receive the signal that you are full, so take your time.


I know this seems simple, but little mindful practices like this can really help with improving your digestion and you would be stunned to know the number of patients I’ve seen who were able to “cure” their reflux this way.