My mouth begins to water as the aroma of fresh baked pies wafts through the air and swirls around my head.
Inhaling deeply stimulates an automatic ‘mmmmm’ upon exhale. More saliva begins to build up in my mouth and my stomach begins to growl in anticipation of enjoying a bite of something delicious. Anticipation is a necessary part of digestion. When we anticipate something it stimulates the para-sympathetic nervous system and begins to pave the way for health digestion and assimilation of nutrients.
This is called the Cephalic Stage of digestion. It is a very important stage because there are particular enzymes, called ptyalin, that are released only in the mouth during this anticipatory stage. These enzymes signal the body to begin preparing for what’s to come. At the same time the gastric juices in the stomach begin pumping and preparing for the oncoming food. When you actually begin chewing the anticipated food the ptyalin mixes with the food and identifies the combination of nutrients, it then signals the body to begin releasing the appropriate enzymes for breaking down the protein, fat, carbohydrate combinations and any micronutrients. Without this critical stage, the digestive process is incomplete. This can result in digestive upset, and believe it or not malnourishment, as the nutrients in the food are unable to be properly digested and assimilated.
Think about the last time you allowed yourself to anticipate a meal? If you can’t remember the last time you were able to, then I highly recommend beginning now. Mastering the Art of Anticipation is a pleasurable goal. Those few moments of anticipation are critical to your overall health and well-being, not to mention your satisfaction and pleasure in life. I call it stimulating the “mmmm” factor. If you’re interested you can read more about that here: The MMMMM Factor