We tend to take the whole digestion process for granted. We sit (or stand) to eat and once the food goes in our mouth we forget about it and after a second we start thinking about the next bite or what happened at work today or what’s happening on TV.
As a result most of us aren’t chewing our food properly and we are swallowing large chunks of food expecting the rest of our digestive system to break it down.
“Why is it such a big deal?” I hear you ask. Digestion is one of the essential jobs of the human body and it begins in the mouth. You take a bite and the food enters your mouth and if chewed properly will glide into the esophagus and into the stomach and small intestine. From there the amazing nutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants) will get absorbed and utilised and hopefully 16 – 40 hours later the waste should be coming out of your body in the form of poop.
When you chew, you break down your food into smaller pieces by your teeth and saliva is secreted. Within the saliva are enzymes that break down the molecules of your food even more. The more you chew and the more broken down the food gets both mechanically and chemically (from the enzymes), the easier digestion is on the rest of your body.
Saliva also helps in swallowing as it lubricates the food so if you are not chewing properly then you will be swallowing large dried pieces of food and the journey through the digestive tract will definitely not be as smooth.
As your food breaks down it signals hormones, enzymes and gastric juices to be produced to help in the digestion process further. If we are rushing through meals and only chewing our food a couple of times we are missing this very important step in digestion. Remember our stomach doesn’t have teeth!
It doesn’t cost anything to chew and is a simple way to improve your digestive and overall health and chewing alone can eliminate bloating, gas and abdominal pain.
So, next time you eat try to be more mindful of your chewing, is the food broken down properly before you swallow? You are not what you eat but what your body can do with what you eat so you could be putting only healthy food into your body but is it able to break down and absorb those nutrients?
1 pound mushrooms, stems trimmed, caps wiped clean
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots, (2 large)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup water, divided
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup thinly sliced carrots, (1 large)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
2 bay leaves
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut in 2-inch chunks
2 1/4-inch-thick lemon slices, (including peel), seeded
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup half and half cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups frozen green peas, rinsed under cold water to thaw
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Combine mushrooms, shallots, oil and 1/4 cup water in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven. Cover and cook over high heat, stirring often, until mushrooms are juicy, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Uncover and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Add broth, carrots, thyme and bay leaves; bring to a boil.
- Place chicken in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker and lay lemon slices on top. Turn heat to high.
- Carefully pour in the vegetable mixture. Cover and cook until the chicken is very tender, 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
- With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken and vegetables to a bowl; discard bay leaves and lemon slices. Skim fat and pour the juices into a large saucepan; add lemon zest.
- Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until reduced to 2 cups, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Mix cornstarch with remaining 1/4 cup water in a small bowl. Add to the pan and cook, stirring, until slightly thickened.
- Add cream and lemon juice; stir until boiling.
- Return the chicken and vegetables to the sauce and heat through. Season with salt and pepper.
- Just before serving, stir in peas and parsley.