The Art of Mastication (Yes, you read right!)

Author: Dr. Quinte Naturopathic Centre on 21 January 2010

Eating well begins with the simple art of chewing. While many of us mow through our food and finish a meal in 5 or 10 minutes, we really should be chewing well to polarize the food with our system and in order to make smooth digestion possible.

Carbohydrate digestion begins in the mouth. Thorough chewing turns grains and other complex carbohydrates into satisfying sugars and makes oils, proteins, and minerals available for maximum absorption. Whole vegetal foods, especially whole grains, must be mixed with saliva and chewed until liquid to release their full nutritional value. Without adequate chewing you will feel heavy and dull, develop gas, and be undernourished.

Meats, fats, sweets, and processed foods satisfy the immediate desire for taste, but soon dull the taste buds. The more they are chewed, the worse they taste. The more whole carbohydrate foods are chewed, the sweeter they become. Dry bread, common dry “rice cakes” found in most food stores, and whole grains without sauce encourage one to chew. Because digestion becomes so efficient, the body begins to feel wonderfully light.

To get started in the correct habit of chewing, try counting the chewing of each bite 30 to 50 times at the beginning of each meal. It helps to put down your fork/spoon/chopsticks between bites. If under pressure at meals, simply chew, and let the chewing relax you. Then you can be grateful and enjoy the whole spectrum of tastes and aromas that make up the meal.

American nutritionist Horace Fletcher (1849-1919) became famous for Fletcherism, the art of thorough mastication. Ancient Japanese and Chinese traditions also teach the benefits of chewing well. Most modern people must relearn this forgotten art in order to make a successful transition to whole foods.

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