Lets look at our digestive system as a pipe. We “drop” something in at one end and something … else comes out at the other end. It’s like those bouncy ball vending machines. You drop in a coin and a ball comes out … if everything works well.
Where does digestion starts? In the stomach? In the bowels?
No. In the mouth!
There’s mechanical (physical) and chemical digestion going on in the mouth.
Chewing, chopping, grinding are the mechanical part and we do that with our teeth. Our tongue supports this process by moving the food around in the mouth and mixing it with the saliva.
While the biggest part of the saliva is mostly water, there are other things in it too: digestive enzymes, mucus, electrolytes, antibacterial substances.
Amylase is present in the saliva. It starts to digest the starches coming from carbohydrates. There’s some lingual lipase too, that starts to break down the fat droplets into smaller droplets.
Later on there’s no other processes that is equivalent to the mechanical grinding of our teeth. We don’t have gizzard (like birds have to grind the food) and we don’t have teeth in our stomach either. So we can count mostly on our stomach acid and digestive enzymes only to continue digestion.
If we buy a bouncy ball (from the vending machine), it has a certain surface. If we chop that ball up, we get a much bigger surface, than we had before, since new surfaces appear. The bigger the surface, the better the enzymes work. If we put a salt cube into water, that will dissolve much slower compared to powdered salt.
The efficiency of our digestion depends on the level of chewing and how well we mix the food with the saliva too.
You can see on the picture, that the consistency of the food depends on how many times we chewed it. While we count to 20 chewing, the food becomes liquid, since we grind it into very small pieces and mix it with the saliva.
There’s one more thing that I wanted to mention. Our body either works in “fight or flight” mode or “rest and digest” mode. The two can’t happen at the same time. When we are in “fight or flight” mode, we can’t digest. However nowadays most of us are in a hurry. We through some food into our mouth on the go and adult make the kids eat fast too.
But our body is in a “fight or flight” mode in these cases. When we start to concentrate on chewing, grinding our food properly, even counting the number of mouth movements we do while chewing one bite, we slow down, we quieten our thoughts and start to focus on eating and digesting the food.
You are not becoming what you eat. You become what you digest and absorb.