Friday, May 10, 2019

Chew Your Food for Health and Performance

It's funny how some of life's little tidbits of advice that your mom or grandma used to tell you truly are pearls of wisdom.  Things that we may have forgotten or written off as just old sayings get more and more science to suggest perhaps there was something to those old adages after all.

"Eat chicken soup when you have a cold."  Well it turns out the salt, the broth (that has been leached from bones) contains zinc and other vital nutrients that help support a healthy immune system.  Dehydration is one aspect that makes you feel worse with a cold, so getting that soup in your body is a way of hydrating.  The advice has merit.

"Chew your food."  While the advice was most likely coming from a fear of choking, it most likely has been passed down from generation to generation and the meaning most likely lost in the centuries that pass.

I am a notorious fast eater.  By fast, I mean I am a poor chewer of food.  Perhaps, it was being the youngest of five.  Perhaps, it was something I taught myself.  In college dining hall closed at certain time.  Because sports practice ended about 30 min before it closed.  I had about 20 min to get to the dining hall and get dinner.  I was pretty much in gain weight mode for 4 years at school for football.  I adapted a strategy of filling my tray with food and devouring as much of it as I could in 15 min.  Then going back for 2nds before it closed, to sit down and eat "2nd Dinner."  This probably created a habit I find hard to break today.

A few years ago, I tried to get into the habit of eating one big salad a day.  I was pretty good with this for a bit, but I got sidetracked along the way.  I again started to get into that habit and realized one thing, salads require chewing.  In fact, I noticed it took almost 30 minutes to eat the bowl of salad I had at one point.

This got me thinking.  Most diets, whether it is Keto, Paleo, Raw, whatever....require you to chew more.  (as well as you generally just ingest less calories)  Junk food is mostly processed carbs that don't require much mastication as well as you have eliminated most liquid calories.   So, does the chewing have just as much impact as the calories being less?  Food for thought!

I recently did the Valter Longo Five Day Fast Mimicking Diet protocols.  By day 2, without any conscious thought I was chewing slower.  It was as if I subconsciously decided to chew every last calorie out of the food.  To savor this bight instead of shoving the 2nd bite in.  It was an unexpected benefit to this 5 day protocol.

Practical Tip:  Put your fork down every time between bites.  This forces a slower eating, more chewing.  A good friend told me this.  It's a money move for changing behavior.

A few weekend ago, I took the Cervical Revolution seminar with Ron Hruska.  I've always found value in how they approach a few concepts.  I've had a few patients in the past year whose neck issues just seemed odd.  I've also noted a few interesting therapy practical concepts that I couldn't quite figure out why it worked.  I had some of my own theories but wanted smarter people then me to perhaps drive more insight.  For example, when looking at a right femur that was neurally guarded on adduction, working the right trapezius and some of the right occipitals, the femur moved much more freely.  I think this is the best example of purposeful learning.  Something I've been seeking out.  A few concepts your struggling with, a few ideas you have high interest in, seeking those answers.

One of the big takeaways from the course was addressing the mandible.  The jaw bone.  Occlusion and malocclusion and how they can be influencers of other systems and joints.

Tempromandibular Joint (TMJ) pain has a high correlation with other joints being sore or painful, the most common being the knee.  

Testing of knee strength with balanced and unbalanced bite has shown a decrease in eccentric strength of the knee when maloccluded.

Chewing is a mammalian behavior.  Carnivores generally chew very little.  Chewing stimulates the stomach acid and autonomic nervous system.

There has been influence of same side masseter muscle with the same side SCM muscle.

Chewing stimulates the sesorimotor cortex of the brain.  It activates the brains autonomic area.

Note from course:  People with low back pain don't know how to chew with their molars.

Practical Tip:  Chew your first 10 bites of any food, 10 on the back left molars and 10 on the back right.  

In the book "Jaws" by Kahn and Ehrlich, they outline what they call the hidden epidemic in youth jaw and teeth development.  Lack of chewing creates weak jaw muscles and doesn't allow room for the teeth and jaw to widen.  It's influence on fascial structure is very interesting.  It can lead to mouth breathing, which leads to poor airway development.  Interestingly there anecdotal observations with mouth breathing and things like increased nightmares, bed wetting and lack of good sleep.

The book contains on a chapter on GOPex (good oral posture exercise)

Some of the the takeaways of practical use were again.  Chew your food with mouth closed.  Even encouraging gum chewing with the mouth closed.

Practical Tip:  Read out loud with good punctuations.  This encourages nasal breathing.  Pause at full stop and take in a breath through the nose.  5-20 min of this per day.

You can play around with surgical tape on the mouth and do some fun games/activities which forces nasal breathing.

Practical Tip:  Always begin your swallow with the teeth of upper and lower jaws touching.  Consciously pause for at least a once second before the swallow.  This will allow the tongue to go the roof of the mouth.

Chewing is an autonomic activity.  We don't need to think about it to do it.  (unless it's painful).  Much like breathing.  But, like breathing, when we bring conscious thought to it, we can make some significant health and performance improvements.

No comments: