Do you know what American millionaire Horace Fletcher1, four-time British Prime Minister William Gladstone who lived until 88, and concentration camp survivor Antonio Stachich have in common? They did not have bad breath, heartburn, or flatulence. Nor did they have an itchy rectum or foul smelling stools. Why? They CHEWED their food - a lot! In fact, Antonio Stachich attributes the survival of the only two of his crew of 32 fellow concentration camp prisoners and himself to their incessant chewing and to the adherence to his empirically generated advice: "If you are ever weak, cold, or sick, chew each mouthful 150 times or more."2
We are omnivores and as such have both carnivore and herbivore tendencies. The carnivore in us tears and wolfs down food, the herbivore chews and chews again. As a carnivore we use our teeth to slice, cut, and then we swallow. However, our intestines are four times as long as those of typical carnivores. This allows our intestines adequate time to break down hardy plant materials. One theory states that unless we properly chew our meat, which allows more efficient nutrient and energy absorption, this could lead to ‘putrefaction, excess wastes and fat lingering in the gut’ and may cause illness ‘such as colon cancer’ (Lino Stanchich, son of the afore-mentioned concentration camp survivor).
Think about this Boy Scout analogy: when you try to build a fire with some paper and a few large blocks of wood, the paper flares up, the logs may be blackened, but the fire quickly dies without releasing its inherent energy. If, however, you cut the logs into small enough pieces, you will be able to start a fire that will warm you for a long time. Likewise, if you take the time to chew, nutrients and energy in each bite are more likely to be released into your body rather than simply pass through it.
So, wolf down your food:
- If you want to gain weight, since you did not give your stomach adequate time to register satiety with your brain
- If you like to burden your intestines with large, undigested chunks of unchewed food, which can make you feel uncomfortable, bring about excessive growth of harmful bacteria, create toxic by-products and, perhaps, lead to inflammation of the gut.
- If you want your intestines to do more than their share of the work of extracting nutrients rather than allow your teeth, tongue and saliva to start the digestive process in an efficient manner
- If despite eating a large quantity of food, you still want to feel hungry
- To give your facial muscles a work-out and improve circulation to the area, which in turn facilitates detoxification
- To enhance the flow of saliva. Saliva wets the bolus, starts the process of digestion by releasing carbohydrate-digesting salivary enzyme amylase or ‘ptyalin’, and initiates detoxification via anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Ptyalin breaks down large, insoluble starch molecules into smaller, soluble starches.
- To send the message to the stomach to start releasing hydrochloric acid. Apparently hydrochloric acid deficiency is quite widespread and leads to underdigestion of protein and inefficient extraction of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and zinc.
- To allow your brain to register that enough calories and nutrients have been received via your intestines
- To ease the work load of the GI system - the seat of our emotions (the GI tract has a high concentration of nerve endings
Some ideas on how to help you chew 32 times before swallowing (or, as Prime Minister Gladstone stipulated -- once for each tooth. Gladstone did manage to live to the ripe old age of 88 years in the 19th century):
- The Place: dedicate a special place just for eating. This is not your car, in front of a TV, or at your computer. Set a pleasant table to make your dining experience more enjoyable. Put a vase with fresh flowers on the table. Use a nice table decoration or beautiful tablecloth. Light some candles. Enhance your mood with your favorite music. How about eating outdoors, in your back yard if you are lucky enough to have one or at a picnic bench in a park?
- The Time: make time just to eat. Do not watch TV, argue with your spouse, read a book, newspaper, IPad, e-mail or anything else. Be present in the moment of eating.
- Do a short meditation before you take your first bite. Be aware of the labor, energy, time and resources it took to create this meal -- before you make it disappear. Thank everyone who was involved in making this food available to you: the farmer who grew it, those who delivered it, the person who cooked it and every step that had to occur to place this dish in front of you.
- Start making a practice of putting down your utensils (or chop sticks or hands or whatever type of ‘utensil’ you use) between bites. Only pick up the utensils once you have swallowed your well-chewed, moist bolus.
- Chew each mouthful two dozen times and observe how every chew releases a different medley of flavors.
- Surround yourself with pleasant company. Choose people who cherish fresh, nutritious food, are a delight to be around, and appreciate the value of a good chew.
- Do as the Italians, a people that tends to be trim, do: “Cuando si mangia non si parla” or do not talk while eating. And, if conversation cannot be avoided at the dinner table, try to stay on enjoyable topics.
- If you find yourself in depressing surroundings (heaven forbid, in a prison), chew with your eyes closed (if this is safe). This lets you momentarily ‘escape’ your unpleasant environment, and helps you internalize your energy.
- If you are going to take the time to really chew your food, cherish yourself by serving yourself the freshest, most nutritious food.
- Make eating a holy and peaceful thing. Try only to eat when you are hungry, content, and at peace with yourself and the world.
- Be in the moment.
|Remember to chew! Star Wars Chewbacca|
- And, most importantly, enjoy. Who knows, if you chew long enough you might just chew yourself into a state of bliss!
Still want to know more about chewing? Check out “Natural Immunity, Insights on Diet and AIDS “ by Noboru Muramoto. The book has a whole chapter devoted to chewing.
Afterthought: maybe you, too, have observed this? When chewing gum, the increased release of saliva eventually creates a feeling of hunger.
By the way did you know that chewing gum has been around since the Neolithic ages? A 5,000-year-old birch bark tar chewing gum with human tooth imprints was found in Finland, and Aztec ladies used to chew chicle to freshen up their breath.
1. extreme chewing is also called ‘Fletcherizing’
2. for the complete story on how both father and son survived via chewing, see http://www.care2.com/c2c/share/detail/755118.