CSNN Mississauga: Faculty Articles
The Lost Art of Chewing
Prepared by: Elizabeth Leslie, Holistic Nutritional Consultant
Our mothers and grandmothers seemed to possess innate wisdom to tell us, their offspring, to “chew our food”…..but do we? In our fast pace lives many of us find it hard to even sit down to eat, let alone chew!
Good nutrition without good digestion leaves us treading water at best… and since chewing is almost the first link in the digestive chain, it’s where I’ll begin. You’ll notice I said “almost“ the first link in the chain. Being “authentically” hungry is really the first link… if we eat when we’re not hungry, the digestive secretions will be scant and dilute compared to what optimal digestion requires. Our bodies receive and digest good wholesome food much more willingly as compared to processed food, but more about food later. Let’s get back to chewing.
I believe most of us are more compliant in following healthy habits when we understand the benefits. So let me explain some of the very important benefits we gain from the simple act of “chewing”.
Chewing (or masticating), is required to breakdown food so that our digestive secretions, which contain an abundance of digestive enzymes, can begin the process of digestion. The goal of digestion is that food be broken down into small enough molecules that they are easily “absorbed” through our intestine wall. If our food isn’t well broken down, it can’t be absorbed, and will putrefy (rot) in the case of protein, or ferment in the case of carbohydrates… in our intestines. This can lead to a myriad of problems both in the small and large intestine, and in the body as a whole… constipation, candida overgrowth, leaky gut syndrome, inflammation, fibromyalgia, food allergies, just to mention a few. So we can help avoid many of these problems by simply chewing our food until it is a paste.
Another benefit of thoroughly chewing our food is that we are less likely to overeat. This is because the time it takes to chew food well allows for the twenty minutes or so that the stomach needs in order to signal fullness to the brain and for our “appestat” to be turned off. Therefore, when we don’t take the time to chew food properly, or even worse, not at all, it is likely that we will eat to the point of fullness in less than twenty minutes, and yes, just keep right on eating!
Weston Price was a dentist back in the 40’s who extensively studied nutrition as it relates to dental health. One of his studies included comparing sets of identical twins where one of the twins had been raised on a traditional healthy diet and the other raised on a diet of processed food. In every set of twins, the results were the same. The healthy diet twin had very good dental health and the processed food twin did not. The differences between the twins were the most visually discernible when it came to their mandible (lower jaw) development. I mention this because there is one thing that the healthy diet twin had to do that the non healthy twin didn’t, and that was CHEW! Processed food such as pasta can be swallowed in less than four chews, whereas wholesome food requires a lot more chewing before it can be swallowed. The actual muscles involved in the act of chewing call for good blood circulation (along with oxygen and nutrients) to the entire oral cavity. In the case of all the healthy twins, in addition to eating a healthy diet, their chewing was a significant contributor to the superior formation and strength of their mandibles as well as their well aligned healthy teeth.
I mentioned earlier that saliva (when we are hungry) is rich in digestive enzymes, i.e. amylase to digest carbohydrates and to a lesser extent, lipase and protease to digest fats and protein respectively. If we don’t chew well and secrete a goodly supply of saliva, we miss this stage of digestive opportunity. Then, “The Law Of Adaptive Secretion” will take over. Our pancreas is going to have to contribute more than its fair share of digestive enzyme secretions. Over time, this may affect its ability to perform its other functions such as insulin production. Few if any, would connect the inability of the pancreas to make insulin …with poor chewing!
The last area that I will touch on in regards to chewing is that of pH. If you have ever done a saliva pH test while you were eating, you would have hopefully found that your saliva was VERY alkaline. The reason for this high alkalinity when eating is that in the first stage of digestion (called pre-digestion), the enzymes both in the food (available only if it was raw), and those delivered via your saliva, work best in an alkaline environment. So chewing encourages the specific alkaline pH that will facilitate optimal pre-digestion.
I hope this introduction to “The Art of Chewing” has shown you that nature leaves nothing to chance. There is a reason for everything and chewing is no exception. The next time you eat, let your tongue explore your mouth, relish the fact that the increased flow of saliva is doing its job, yours is to CHEW.
Here are some tips to help you remember to chew your food well:
- Create a relaxed eating environment that is conducive to chewing well.
- Light a candle
- Use smaller spoons (yes, saliva does occupy space in our mouths if we chew long enough, so we have to make room for it.)
- Put your eating utensils on your plate while you chew, and pick them up again only after you have swallowed what you have just chewed well.
- Minimize conversation, as it can be a reason for premature swallowing.
- Be in the moment with your food, appreciate it and most importantly, enjoy it.
- If you have children, make chewing a “family affair”. They will love catching Mom or Dad if they aren’t chewing!
In the meantime, let’s get on with the incredibly important “Art of Chewing”!
Genetics and GMOs ; Opinion
Prepared by: Dr. Murray Hassard, DC
The Science of Genetics had changed so much in the last 50 years and many people are completely unaware of the implications to our planet and our food chain. Our Ancestors modified plants gradually over many years by selecting seeds that grew better or had increased yield. Examples include the development of corn over a few thousand years from a small grass-like plant to the robust cobs we enjoy today. This conventional traditional genetics also involved cross-pollinating plants to nurture better properties.
Recently, the Genetic Revolution has taken a dramatic, and in my opinion a dangerous shift. The American Patent Office now permits patents to be taken out on various forms of life, patents were previously only granted for new inventions or processes. This has significantly changed the motivation from a Farmer wanting better crops to corporations wanting ongoing control of the Seed lines of our food chain. Companies have altered the genetics of these GMO seeds and they own the subsequent rights to the seeds and their progeny. The Farmers are required to sign contracts to license the use of these seeds shifting the traditional farming model to one resembling a software license. Initially the Farmer receives an increase to their income with an initial boost in crop yield, but this is lost in the increased charge for seeds in following years.
Monsanto has created GMO seeds genetically more tolerant of weed-killer chemicals that they produce (Round-up). This leads to increased use and increased chemical residue on our crops and then on our foods. The increased exposure to these chemicals leads to increased Cancer rates and decreasing fertility rates as well as weed-killer resistant weeds called “Super weeds”. The promise that GMO crops would result in reduced pesticide and herbicide use has failed and it has resulted in an increased use of these toxic chemicals. Similarly, there is a decrease in soil quality as the chemicals eliminate organisms that are needed for soil health. The Monsanto seeds which contain a Genetically modified gene with Bt toxin added to the seed genetics to make the seed insecticidal to kill weevils and other crop pests are also killing the beneficial insects such as pollinators like bees and butterflies.
It is important to realize that once the gene is altered, it becomes a permanent alteration to the genetic legacy of all subsequent plants,resulting in an ongoing “Gene pollution”. In Canada there are presently 11.4 million hectare of crops planted with GMO, (#5 in world GMO production) these include Canola, Corn, Soy and Sugar Beet and yet our government does not even have any requirement that GMO crops be labeled. We are having our Genetic heritage altered in this permanent way and there has been a complete lack of government oversight.
The Diet Depression Connection
Prepared by: Dr. Valerie Franc, ND
Are You 1 in 2?
Mental health issues are on the rise. Whether you are looking at anxiety rates in teens or depression and suicide in adults; mental illness and substance abuse affects more people than ever. Currently an estimated one in three Canadians will experience a mental illness or substance use disorder in their lifetime. That means that by the time we reach the age of 40, one in two Canadians either have, or have had, a mental illness. With suicide rates among Indigenous youth ranking among the highest in the world, Canada is at a crisis point. While hardship, trauma and family violence are contributing factors, nutrition and lifestyle can have a significant impact on mental health and quality of life.
Be a Fat Head
Recently, scientists found that a diet lacking in omega-3s may contribute to higher rates of major depressive disorder. Studies show that eating wild caught fatty fish (such as anchovy, mackerel, salmon, sardines and herring) regularly helps stave off depression, as they are a rich source of these essential fatty acids. Other good sources of omega-3s include; flaxseed, walnuts and marine algae oil
Listen To Your Gut
There is a profound gut brain connection. Not only our food, but the biodiversity of our gut microflora plays a profound role in maintaining optimal mental health. A new study out of McMaster University showed improved depression scores with the addition of the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging also confirmed that the improvement was associated with changes in multiple brain areas involved in mood control.
The Power of Proteins
Ethically raised turkey, eggs, wild caught fish and organic chickpeas and lentils are just some of the foods that contain an amino acid called tryptophan. This powerful protein helps produce serotonin and therefore promotes healthy sleep patterns and a stable mood. Another side benefit is that consuming proteins can help stabilize blood sugar levels, which therefore help prevent low moods.
Take A Daily Dose of D
Low levels of vitamin D have long been associated with depression and seasonal affective disorder. As the sun can be a great source, during the winter and when using daily sunscreen, deficiencies in this essential nutrient can easily occur. Since low levels have also been associated with obesity, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease and cancer, filling up on vitamin D rich foods is a must at this time of the year. Some good sources of vitamin D include egg yolks and wild caught fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring.
Weighing in On the Matter
When it comes to mental well being and behaviour our weight matters too. Studies confirm that people who are depressed are more likely to become obese. Currently this is believed to be a result of increased inflammation along with the changes to hormones and immunity that accompany depression. As depression can lead some individuals to self medicate with alcohol, which adds empty calories and depletes the body of much needed vitamins (particularly B1 and folate), weight gain can be further exacerbated. Fortunately exercise raises endorphins and serotonin, so going out for a long walk or even trying some yoga can help improve mood and prevent packing on the pounds.