How Does Chewing Your Food Improve Your Fertility?
Last time you ate something, how much thought did you give to how well chewed the food was before you swallowed it. If you’re like most people, I’m guessing you answered “none”.
Literally every structure and every function in our bodies are built on the food that we absorb. What we swallow has the ability to help or harm us, depending on what it is and how we eat it. Our digestive system is on the front line of all those helpful and harmful foods. The health of our digestive system is a deciding factor as to whether we’ll have all the right building blocks in place to stay functional – including the ability to have and hold a pregnancy. Swallowing half-chewed chunks of food is an abuse to your digestive system and hence your health.
Let’s discuss how chewing properly can nourish and safeguard your fertility.
Improve Digestion to Prepare for Absorption
The process of chewing your food allows your mouth and stomach to produce more digestive enzymes to help break down the foods to prepare them for absorption. Chewing your food longer helps to produce:
- Lipase for the breakdown of fats,
- Amylase for the breakdown of carbohydrates and
- Stomach acid for the breakdown of protein and absorption of minerals.
- Other enzymes and cofactors for absorbing essential nutrients
Absorbing fats, proteins and minerals is integral to maintaining healthy hormones, balancing your menstrual cycle and improving sperm and egg quality (not to mention, growing a healthy baby!).
Absorb the Materials You Need for Fertility and Pregnancy
To be healthy, thriving and reproductive, we need to make sure that we are absorbing every nutrient available to us as efficiently as possible. The inside of small intestine is covered with millions of microscopic finer-like structures – called “villi” – that are designed to absorb nutrient molecules through contact. Put simply: the body absorbs nutrients when the nutrient particles touch the surface area of your intestines (the villi).
Chewing your food breaks large food particles into smaller particles, making it more easily absorbable because of the greater ‘surface area to volume ratio’ – meaning that more nurients can touch more villi.
Less ‘Bad’ Bacteria – More ‘Good’ Bacteria
The bacterial balance in your gut largely depends on what you feed it. Just like any other organisms, bacteria will thrive according to their environment and available food. When large particles of food arrive in your intestines, they will begin to putrefy and instead of being nourishment to the healthy flora in your gut, it will feed the so called ‘bad’ bacteria, potentially leading to bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea and other IBS and digestive problems.
More important than symptomatic issues, this imbalance of bacteria can affect your mental health, inflammation levels, nutrient absorption and hormone balance. Bacterial imbalance in the gut of the mother has also been linked to autism, autoimmune disease, and other diseases and disorders in the child.
How Much Chewing Is Enough?
If you’ve ever counted how many times you chew before you swallow, you’ll know that it varies depending on the type and texture of food. When I was getting started on chewing more consciously I used to count to 30. I found this impractical because it required too much concentration and didn’t account for different food types and textures. Instead, I personally just keep chewing until the food has turned to a liquid or paste with no discernable lumps or texture.
That’s the baseline. You shouldn’t be able to feel any pieces that are different from the rest of the mouthful it should all be one uniform mash before you swallow.
Here are some suggestions of how to get started on chewing thoroughly:
- Chew slowly and mindfully (counting your chews can be a great starting point)
- Put smaller bites/portions in your mouth
- Put your cutlery down between mouthfuls
- Completely finish chewing and swallowing each mouthful before taking another
- Chew until the mouthful has no remaining lumps or texture
- Do not drink fluids while there is food in your mouth
- Try not to be distracted (with tv, phone or other interferences) while eating
The health of your digestive system and hormone balance can also be tested on you during one-on-one Nutritional Therapy Consultations. Alternatively, you could call or email me, and I’d be happy to talk through an action plan with you.