Dear Reader,

Mum was right.

You do need to chew your food.

When we were children, we were told ‘thirty chews to every bite’ and we wondered why; what indeed was the importance? However, in today’s fast-track world where we see people in public places walking and eating at the same time, we wonder just what on earth is going on in their digestive systems – and so in today’s newsletter, we thought that we would write some words and advice to explain.

How digestion works: The digestive tract is basically a long tube from the mouth to where it all comes out. It has valves that keep the food in one area or another, while the body carries out its various functions in each section, and little by little moves it along the conveyer belt system to the next compartment. But the digestive tract doesn’t have any teeth or the ability to dismantle any big lumps of food that we swallow. All of the chewing has to take place in the mouth, where it’s main job is to masticate the food into particles small enough for the stomach to deal with, and where it will be mixed with enzymes that will later be released into the digestive process.

From the mouth, the chyme – the name for the pulp-like substance that is created by chewing, moves down the oesophagus to the stomach. A valve at the top opens and another in the stomach closes so that the stomach can mix the chyme with hydrochloric acid and pepsin (the chief digestive enzyme). At the end of a process which takes several hours – and the reason why you should have nothing to eat after three hours before bedtime, the bottom (pyloric) valve opens, releasing the chyme into the small intestine.

The chyme stays in the small intestine for several hours being churned and mixed until the nutrients in it are ready to be absorbed. It is here that the smaller the particle size in the mouth the easier it is for the small intestine to do their job. Next, the ileocecal valve opens and the chyme passes into the large intestine where it is squeezed to extract water and electrolytes, and where the colon does is it’s magical job carrying away the nutrients and taking them into other parts to be nourished. Water, or the lack of it, is important in this function and is the reason why people get constipated as simply stated – they don’t drink enough – with the standard that we all should set being eight, 8oz glasses of water every day.

The walls of the digestive tube are smooth, but the chyme makes its way along it by being squeezed by circular and longitudinal muscles in the walls (peristalsis) that move it along a bit like a snake slithers along the grass. Speaking of proteins, fish contains the best and at the same time most easily assimilated by the body. And so a great deal of care should be exercised in the choice of proteins, as unless these substances are digested and assimilated, they soon turn into a highly poisonous paste wherefrom the toxins are absorbed by the walls and mucous membranes of the small intestine and pass into our blood-stream and into us.

The cause of indigestion (and painful gas) is simply the failure to chew our food sufficiently. When we do it correctly, we create saliva and chyme. What also happens with chewing is that the masticating process signals to other digestive organs (via the nervous system), to get ready to do their jobs. So, all in all, mum’s advice was right to tell us to chew our food, and here’s an example why:

The cells in fruits and vegetables have indigestible cellulose walls that must be broken down so that the small intestine can mix enzymes with them to digest them. Fruit juice, without the addition of water and swallowed rapidly (as some of us are inclined to do) is transformed into bad alcohol in the stomach. Only proteins can be ingested by the stomach, itself, i.e., milk, cheese, eggs, fish, meat, nuts and soya (much loved by Chinese and Indian’s to cure diabetes).

Of note: Soya, which in addition to its protein, contains sugar of a fundamentally different chemical formula from sugar in sweet foods, and seems to give a complete rest to the whole pancreatic system, with this being the reason why it is worthy of consideration of soya as a food for us here in the UK.

Of note (again): the stomach works best in the morning, at midday and until seven to eight o-clock in the evening. After this, any food eaten remains in the stomach until it resumes its activity about seven in the morning – and probably the reason why some people are never hungry enough for breakfast, as they simply don’t realise that they are digesting the food from the previous evenings – at breakfast-time. Thus it makes it easy to understand why the evening meal should be light and why heavy food in the stomach for a long time, is in a way a disaster – and of course leads to a very leaden sleep.

During the night, we have an unconscious slowing down of the digestive function, and then the instinct of self-preservation, wakes us up and calls us to order where the physical functions work far better and at a speedier rhythm in a state of wakefulness. In all, digestion is simply one part of the magnificent beings that we are, all controlled by our autonomic nervous system – but that itself is a story for another day.

So, once again, we hope that this little newsletter gives you ‘food for thought’ and more importantly we present it to our stomachs in the best way possible, as after all, they have such a vital and every day job to do for us.

You can find out all about us and read other helpful articles at Best wishes from Sheila and all of the team at SkinLikes.

Office: 0800 023 6252