How many of you thought that digestion began in the mouth?!
I remember as a kid growing up, I would inhale my meals without pause. My family would repeatedly remind me to slow down but I loved food so much that it went in one ear and out the other.
Well, if I knew then what I know now, I would have been a lot better off because as a kid I suffered from digestive issues all the way through high school and university. First year university was when I finally received an official diagnosis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. I wasn’t a kid, but still, nothing made sense. It all makes sense now.
Rushing through my meals, improper chewing was very easily one factor that greatly contributed to my unhealthy gut.
Up until a few years ago, I believed that digestion began in the stomach. Then I learned that it began in the mouth and now I know it begins in the BRAIN! Yes, brain! Who knows what research will reveal a few more years from now.
The digestive system comprises the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine (colon) but did you know there are also accessory digestive organs ? These are outside of the digestive tract and include our teeth, tongue, salivary glands, gall bladder, pancreas and liver. Basically, the digestive tract begins in the mouth and ends at the anus but really begins somewhere else….
Here is the part you’ve been waiting to hear. Well first let me ask you this? How do you feel when you see food? Exactly! You tap into your senses and get ready to dive into that meal so even before that food goes into your mouth, any sound, sight, taste, odor that you associate with food can trigger your body to prepare for the arrival of the food. Your body “pumps up”. This is why it is so important to be relaxed while eating the food you are about to eat – known as ‘Mindful Eating’. If you’re stressed the body will not be able to focus on digestion. Being present with the food, bringing it close to your nose and taking an inhale, listening attentively to any sounds made will help prepare your body for digestion.
Interesting, isn’t it? So the next time you sit down for your meal before lifting that utensil, notice how your body feels. Our brain talks to our gut; our gut talks to our brain.
Eating mindfully can be a simple easy way to enhance our total digestive function so chew your food at least 30 times and avoid eating while stressed!!
Written by Tania Christina Scavone
Lipski, Elizabeth. Digestive Wellness 4th Edition, 2012.