Te Atatu Toasted fans often comment on how chewy our cereals are. That’s because they are made from wholefood ingredients. But the good news is that this chewy consistency has an accidental health bonus - chewing your food more can improve your breathing.
Science journalist James Nestor has written a book, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, that looks at why we have developed bad breathing habits and what that might mean for our health.
He says that the human face, and our mouths specifically, have been shrinking in size.
One of the reasons for that is the switch in our diets – our ancestors ate wild, wholefoods and spent about four hours a day chewing their food. As a result, they built bone mass and muscles in the face and a wider mouth.
But in the past few centuries, we’ve started eating processed food - white flour, white rice, canned foods. Even some healthy foods, such as smoothies, avocados, yogurt, is too soft
So our mouths have shrunk, and the problem with having a mouth too small for your face, is that you have a smaller airway, which is one of the main reasons that we are dealing with so many chronic breathing problems in the modern world.
Research shows that breathing well can improve asthma management, help people control their anxiety or stress response, and improve sports performance.
Poor breathing, on the other hand, can cause chest pain, dizzy spells, reflux and gastrointestinal upsets and leave people feeling tired all the time.
So it makes sense to start chewing and enlarge those airways. Add more chewy wholefoods to your diet with grains such as wholegrain rice, buckwheat, quinoa, bulgur wheat, oats (especiallly wholegrain), faro and barley and nuts and seeds such as almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, linseeds and pumpkin seeds.