In “Star Wars” can you understand what Chewbacca (played by 7 foot, 3 inch tall Peter Mayhew) is saying? Probably not. Seems only Hans Solo and crew can make sense of that mouthful of sounds. However, if you want to understand the Chewy in your life, you don’t need wookietranslator.com (”What’s for dinner?” is “uughghhhgh aarrragghuuhw aaaaahnr uughghhhgh”) to decipher its importance. Just chew on this.
Chewing is the first stage in your digestion. It stimulates saliva secretion; saliva then provides digestive enzymes that help make nutrients more bioaccessible for your gut. Chewing also starts the activation of leptin, the now-I’m-full hormone that regulates the amount of food you eat.
Unfortunately, chewing is a forgotten skill these days, since so much of our food is ultra-soft and processed. (Did you know chimps spend half their waking hours chewing unprocessed food?) And some research indicates that lack of chewing may contribute to the epidemic of expanding waistlines. (Have you ever seen a fat chimp?) So chew on these masticating tips:
1. Choose food that is unprocessed -- fresh veggies, fruits, 100 percent whole grains. They demand the most chewing to release their nutrients and flavor. And take time to notice flavors, textures, smells and how food makes you feel.
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2. Chew slowly and thoroughly. In the early 1900s, folks were advised to chew each mouthful 100 times. That’s a bit much, but you get the point. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to signal to your stomach you’re full.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.