Slow Down

Did you know that digestion begins in your mouth?

Yep. YOU, and your salivary glands, have control over the initial stage of digestion.


Hi, Mom.


Salivary glands produce saliva and enzymes (such as salivary amylase–an enzyme that “chops up” large starch molecules into simpler sugars [maltose and dextrin]).


Your teeth and hard palate (the roof of your mouth) are also all-star caliber players; they allow you to chomp, chew, and move your food around until it’s ready for the next step. Then, your tongue guides the moistened bits of food toward your food pipe (your esophagus).


It’s a lot like baseball. Well, not really, but I think that a sports metaphor can work well here. Think of the tongue as the batter who’s waiting for the perfect pitch. When the chomping and chewing of the food is complete, and the food is nice and moist, the tongue hits a home run and the food is able to traverse into the next level of digestion.


The initial stage of digestion is essentially the only process that YOU can control, aside from consuming optimally nutritious foods, of course. So why not help your body by starting the process smoothly?


Chew. Chomp. Cherish. You’ll enjoy your food more. You’ll also be able to gauge your hunger level if you eat slowly.


I know what you’re thinking: business men and women, as well as busy people in general, all need to aggressively devour their food whilst walking to the next meeting. Therefore, they can’t play by these rules. For those facing this conundrum–pack smaller, denser sandwiches (or any lunch foods) that can be consumed in less time, with fewer bites. However, you should always emphasize nutrition.


Oh. After you eat, remember to keep your mouth clean by brushing, flossing, and drinking water throughout the day. The microbes (bacteria in your mouth) like to snack on leftover food stuck in between/on teeth. The bacteria has a real love affair with sugar. When the bacteria mingles with leftover food and sugar, acid is produced as a byproduct. This can lead to tooth decay, gingivitis, and other problems. To stick with the baseball metaphor, keep your stadium mouth clean.


No harm, no foul. Eh?


Around the teeth and through the gums – look out stomach, here it comes. (R. Bowen)


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