Not that long ago, my Naturopath doctor urged me to eat as many vegetables as I could and I quickly figured out I could get more vegetables by making smoothies – wonderful, healthy smoothies with really great vegetables, greens, seeds, berries and nut milk, and a ‘smoothie-a-day person was born. I went through a few blenders until finally I got serious and bought a Vitamix.
And then the irony of it: after investing a few hundred dollars into an appliance (but it will last the rest of my life!) I began to re-evaluate the wisdom of my liquid meals due to a post on Katy Says blog (which is now in her book, Alignment Matters, and not on her blog, so unless you buy the book you’ll have to take my word for it).
I’d already been discussing the wisdom of juicing and pureeing food with my Naturopath when she told me about a school of thought that believes ‘wolfing’ down your food with as little chewing as possible is good for the digestive processes. Might be, but what is good for one body system isn’t necessarily good for the entire body. What I learned from Katy is that chewing food has a role to play in maintaining good health, and one that the best nutrition in the world won’t replace, if it isn’t chewed.
Besides the fact (you knew this, right?) that chewing produces saliva which cleans the teeth by washing off the sugars that lead to dental decay, chewing help you keep the bone structure in your face. When you bite into a raw carrot (or any food that requires you to work), the teeth push into the jaw which signals the bones to maintain their density. Let’s pause for a moment to review how to grow bones and maintain bone density.
You have probably learned that weight-bearing exercise is necessary for maintaining bone density. True, but that doesn’t mean literally using weights, it means that maintaining bone density is a mechanical process which starts with your bones cells being ‘squished’ by a force applied to them (that’s the weight-bearing part). Squished bone cells signal the nutrients you take in — in your food and/or supplement — to grow more bone. It is the impact to the ends of the bones that signals them to grow.
And here is where alignment, and fairy tales, comes in. You need just the right amount of squish, I mean weight – not too much, and not too little – juuust right. And the exciting part is that research shows that moving, weight-bearing bones gives the most bang for the buck, bone development wise. Nia is a wonderful weight-bearing, bone-density exercise and so is walking, but unless you eat apples while you walk it won’t do much for the bone density in your face. Nutrients + weight-bearing exercise + chewing your food = whole body bone density building. You get the picture?
Are you skeptical about this bone density in the face thing? Well, you can read this article here (As Our Skin Sags) on plastic surgery and why a face lift doesn’t always have the desired effect of returning facial features to their earlier glory: if the bone density in a person’s face has diminished, tightening the skin is going to create more of a ‘wind-swept’ look. The good doctors recommend keeping your teeth because where there aren’t teeth we lose mass as the body fills in that empty tooth socket space.
So here it is: another good reason to have an apple a day – a good crunchy apple — you will increase the bone density in your face by giving your jaw work to do. You don’t have to swear off juicing or making smoothies entirely though; in Katy’s article she mentioned adding raw corn to her finished smoothie for something to chew, and that’s a clever option. Or, chew the carrot or apple instead of putting it in the blender. Or, I’ve always liked the celery stick that comes with a certain alcoholic beverages, considered them ‘healthier’ drinks and now I have a good reason for saying so.