Enzymes are chemicals that help speed up digestion. They break down food molecules so that the body can digest and absorb them better. Amylase is responsible for converting starchy foods into sugar.
Which is why if you chew rice or potato for longer than normal, they begin to taste sweet.
Amylase is also used in making alcohol! Many tribal cultures around the world used to make alcohol by chewing grains and then spitting it out. The amylase would convert the starch to simple sugars. The sugars would then ferment to form alcohol.
Anthropologist believe that amylase gave early human beings an edge in the world. As they could now digest starchy carbs for that extra energy. We could cultivate grains as a food source to feed the increase in population.
However in today’s world of juicing and smoothies our ability to chew has dramatically been reduced. We no longer have to chew our food as much. We end up eating faster and faster.
Many of us take great pride in our ability to wolf down our food and show others how quickly we eat. However, that many not be the smartest way to eat.
I often hear stories of growing up in boarding schools where you had to eat fast, or else you would not have enough food to eat.
The truth is that our body need to chew to digest the food. The more we chew, the smaller the particles of food entering the stomach are. This is called mechanical digestion. The enzymes in our mouth further break down this food. This is called chemical digestion.
Chewing is the missing link when we think about nutrition and food. Because if we are eating the most nutrition rich food, but are unable to digest it, we are still malnourished..
So often when clients discuss their gut health issues, I first start by asking them “How do you eat your food?”.
There is a quote that is often misunderstood “Chew your liquids and drink your solids” People take this to mean blend your food into a smoothie. The real meaning is to chew your solid food till it turns into a liquid and then drink it. And keep the liquids in your mouth for a little while before swallowing it.
So the idea is to slow down while you eat. The best way to do this is to eat smaller bites.
So your habit is to eat your meals with a teaspoon or a dessert spoon. You might look ridiculous but that’s always a good thing. A teaspoon is actually the correct size for a proper bite of food.
The second part of this habit is to put your spoon down after each bite. And not just have the follow-up bite ready!
This will dramatically slow down the eating process. Chew and spend time enjoying the flavours of the food you are eating.
Remember; Chew your liquids and drink your solids!