How our bodies have changed in response to lifestyle - Shrinking Jaws
Most of my adult life has been spent studying the human body in all its myriad permutations. From movement to diet and all the messiness in between.
I spent well over 20 years as a movement teacher, I owned a yoga and movement studio for over 15 years. Through those years I studied Ayurveda and other ways of supporting our bodies through better food, better movement and other lifestyle choices. It's always been a passion of mine.
It's also one of the reasons I own a food based business. I believe we should all have access to healthy nourishing food and that our farmers should be paid well for the work that they do and that we need to focus more on healthy sustainable soil management in order to have a healthy planet for our children and their children to enjoy.
Part of this whole journey has included how we use our bodies. I've always been fascinated with things like sleep habits, lifestyle habits - how we use our bodies for the work we do, how we use them when not working. How best to support a healthy body that often sits more than a human body was ever designed to do! And also how our current lifestyle is changing our bodies slowly from one generation to the next- it's true, we only need to look at our kids and how their bodies have been changed by staring at screens for extended periods of time!
This article put out by a team of researchers at Stanford focuses on our changing jaws, which makes so much sense. Our jaw like the rest of our body is influenced by the life stresses that we put or don't put on it. If we are chewing less and stressing the jaw less as a result of that, then we will start to change the shape of our jaws! I started paying attention to this when I had to get my impacted wisdom teeth removed as a teenager, ALONG with several other teeth removed. My brain couldn't make sense -WHY is my jaw not able to accommodate the teeth that I have? Could it be that through generations my families jaws have been shrinking? Hmm.
This is a small part of the article I have linked to above:
"Available evidence points to the jaws epidemic arising as humanity underwent sweeping behavioral changes with the advent of agriculture, sedentism (settling in one place for extended periods) and industrialization. One obvious factor is the softening of diets, especially with the relatively recent invention of processed foods. Also, less chewing is needed nowadays to extract adequate nutrition – our ancestors certainly did not enjoy the sustentative luxury of slurping down protein shakes.
A less obvious, though more significant reason behind the jaws epidemic, Ehrlich and colleagues contend, has been the rise of what they describe as bad oral posture. Our bones grow, develop and change shape under the influences of gentle but persistent pressures, multiple studies have shown. The proper development of the jaw and its associated soft tissues is guided by oral posture – the positioning of the jaws and the tongue during times when children are not eating or speaking. This positioning is especially important overnight during long sleep stretches, when swallowing maintains the correct, gentle pressures. With both children and adults now sleeping on forgiving mattresses and pillows, instead of the firm ground as their ancestors did, mouths are likelier to fall open, disrupting positioning and swallowing."
The good news is that good chews are beneficial. SO my takeaway from this? Enjoy those crunchy almonds, chew them well. Get your molars masticating.