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Enhance Weight Loss and Improve Digestion with THIS Simple Habit

Beginning a weight loss journey can be daunting! It’s difficult to know where to start, and even the most motivated and disciplined individuals can become overwhelmed by all the conflicting weight loss information out there. Those who are already on a weight loss program can reach a plateau where they can’t seem to lose any more weight. It’s important to take baby steps so that the body can adjust slowly to new habits, but determining what those steps should be in the first place isn’t an easy task. 

Each person is unique, so what works for one person may not work for another. Weight loss, or even simply improving health through nutrition, will look different for everyone. Factors that impact this journey for each person include genetics, work environment, home environment, health history, current diagnoses, diet history, sleep, activity level, relationships, and support from others. It’s easy to see why there is no one-size-fits-all approach to health and weight loss!

There is, however, one very simple and very important part of weight loss, digestion, and overall health that happens before we even swallow our food…CHEWING!

Chewing is not actually the first part of eating (that’s when you think about, see, or smell food, which starts in the brain), but the second part when we put food into our mouths. As we chew, important enzymes are released in our saliva that begins to break down carbohydrates, and additional enzymes are released in our stomachs and small intestines to prepare for the breakdown of the other macronutrients (protein and fat).

Chewing represents the mechanical part of digestion, where food is broken down into smaller pieces and mixed with saliva to enable us to swallow the food. The more the food is broken down in the mouth before swallowing, the less the rest of the digestive tract has to work to continue breaking down the food for absorption in the small intestine. 

When’s the last time you paid attention to chewing? Have you ever? As simple as it is, it’s extremely hard to remember to think about! Most of us chew just enough to make the food particles small enough to swallow. While that is enough to send the food to the next phase of digestion (the stomach), it means that the stomach and small intestine will have to work a little harder to break down the particles enough to be absorbed into the body. And in some situations, people with digestive enzyme deficiencies may not be able to break the food down small enough for absorption, resulting in digestive discomfort or loss of important vitamins and minerals.

Additionally, the more energy it takes for the body to continue breaking down food past the mouth means less energy for us to do whatever it is we want or need to do in the day!

Practicing chewing more also helps us slow down and not eat so fast, which is another important component of weight loss! 

How much chewing should you actually do? It depends on what you’re eating! Denser or tougher foods require more chews, while softer foods require less. Even smoothies, soups, or purées can be chewed a few times to enhance enzyme production and digestion! 

TAKEAWAY: Adopt the practice of chewing at least twice as much as you normally would for any particular food you eat. Slow down and think about the food in your mouth and how it is being broken down. You’ll probably discover that you have more saliva to help coat the food and prepare for swallowing after more chews. Don’t swallow until you’ve mashed it all up as small as you can! Try it out and see what difference it makes for you!

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