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Chewing and the Tooth-Lined Esophagus

Digestion is all about breaking down the food we eat so its component nutrient parts can be absorbed and used by your body.  Each part of the process serves a purpose. As food moves through the digestive system, from mouth to stomach to intestinal tracts, each step of the process expects to receive properly processed input.

Inhaling Food Without Chewing
Inhaling Food Without Chewing

As you shovel in food, the process begins with chewing. Mastication is the technical term. Once food is chewed [called ‘bolus’], it travels down your esophagus into your stomach.

Now bolus is supposed to be well-chewed food… a small, round slurry mass. But too often the food hits the stomach without a tooth mark on it. Ever seen a piece of corn in the toilet bowl?

Inhaling food inhibits the digestive process. Chewing each mouthful a couple of times and swallowing deprives your body of the nutrients of the food being eaten.

Depending on the texture of what you are eating, it needs to be chewed 20 – 30 times before swallowing. And that’s a tough thing to do if you are a fast eater.

Like the formation of any new habit, it takes focus and practice. If you normally inhale your food, start put down your fork between bites. Count the number of chews for each mouthful. Savour your meals with company and conversation, not by reading or watching TV.

I love what Dr. Libby Weaver says: Don’t eat “as though your esophagus is lined with teeth”.