Millions of Americans are plagued with digestive problems from chronic heartburn to irritable bowel syndrome. There are endless reasons why digestive issues can occur. Dietary choices like eating too many highly processed foods play a role for certain. Always eating on the run can also cause digestive issues. And factors that aren’t always directly related, like stress levels, can cause digestive problems that can be severe. But there are simple things you can do to help your body digest food properly. One of them is chewing your food well.
Rushing is a Problem
Digestive issues can stem from rushing through meals for a number of reasons, and one of the mistakes we make when we rush our meals is to not chew adequately. Chewing food is the first step in digestion. Then the stomach and digestive enzymes take over. Signals from the tongue and mouth indicate what kind of digestive enzymes will be necessary to break down foods and the more time the body has to assess what’s required, the better the digestion will be. As foods enter the stomach, digestive enzymes are released from the pancreas, gallbladder and the lining of the stomach.
This complicated process is not helped by a rushed meal. And when you rush your meals you can also induce the release of stress hormones like cortisol, which also cause you to digest differently and can cause digestive problems.
Digestion in the Intestines Causes Problems
If food isn’t chewed sufficiently, digestive enzymes in the stomach can’t do enough to break down food before it heads into the intestines. Digestion in the intestines is where gas is produced and food that hasn’t been chewed properly causes more gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. Focusing on chewing can help ensure that your digestive system works the way it’s supposed to.
Chewing Reduces Heartburn
Finally, when food isn’t chewed enough, the stomach beefs up acid production in the hopes of digesting food completely. Eating fast and not chewing enough often causes digestive issues. Digestive enzymes work well in balance with healthy eating habits, but if you don’t chew your food the slack has to be picked up elsewhere in the body.
By not chewing enough, we throw the digestive system out of balance. The stomach requires more acid and digestive enzymes and the intestines have to do a bigger job than they’re designed to do. So help yourself out and chew!