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The Human Tongue

What do I have to gain by taking notice of the functions of the tongue?

First and foremost, you should give yourself a chance to understand the functions of the tongue and its multitude of duties. Your behavioral patterns, especially related to how you chew and prepare the food for entry into the rest of the digestive system, can play a major role in helping the digestive process to do its work more efficiently, which means that all the organs will be able to carry out their tasks as intended. These simple positive changes are entirely in your hands and will change your quality of life forever for the better.

What is the tongue made of?

The Human Tongue is the large flexible bundle of skeletal muscles on the floor of the mouth.

Why do I have to know what the tongue does?

The tongue is a most miraculous organ. It serves so many vital functions 24 hours a day – most of which are taken for granted by all of us. That is, until we experience a blister, happen to bite it or for some other uncommon reason.

How will it help me if I get to know the tongue better?

Research has shown very positive changes to our eating habits and the efficiency of all the many facets of the Digestive System after one has closely read and really tried to absorb these few facts about the Human Tongue. It is intriguing, interesting and most valuable.

How can knowing the tongue help me to lose weight?

One of the most dramatic changes is in Fat Loss. Most overweight or obese people eat too quickly and hardly chew their food. They also usually try to get as much food as possible in to their mouth on every mouthful. This makes it difficult if not impossible to masticate it all sufficiently.

Is eating quickly a bad thing?

The general good advice is to eat slowly. But it all boils down to HOW WELL YOU CHEW EACH MOUTHFUL that counts. Eating quickly and chewing small mouthfuls at a time could be acceptable. Whereas eating slowly and not chewing well is still bad. The main problem normally starts with placing too much food in to the mouth at once. It is physically impossible to chew all of it well without swallowing most of it not masticated as required. Try it out by consciously concentrating of the quantity and the chewing.

How can I change to chewing better and masticating the food as the body requires it to be done?

Quite simple! Think of all that your tongue is doing from the time you put some food into your mouth until the tongue is ready to guide the food to the next stage of the digestive process. How the cheeks, lips and teeth become involved. How the food is quickly changing from solids to a digestible juice with the help of the saliva and enzymes. Soon you will be chewing and masticating correctly and you will not have to think about it any longer.

Will chewing correctly help my whole digestive system?

Absolutely. The change will help improve every aspect of the workings of the digestive system because all the other organs involved in the process will have a better chance of carrying out their respective functions to their maximum efficiency.

Can you list the functions of the tongue?

Let’s go through the list of functions and uses of the Human Tongue in abbreviated form: -

Can the tongue ever get out of alignment?

The tongue is a seldom considered organ, but one of the most important. Its work and numerous functions are generally taken for granted. Yet it is extremely strong, powerful and resilient and never in itself gets out of alignment;

What is the primary organ of taste?

The tongue is the primary organ of taste, as much of its surface is covered in different taste buds; it is one of the chief centers of the sense of taste;

What is the function of the taste buds?

The taste buds in the human tongue and mouth can detect five basic taste components: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savory;

What effects taste?

The sense of taste does not work as efficiently unless your nose is clear, so a cold in the head will handicap the taste functions of the tongue;

Can the tongue protect me against poisonous foods or drink?

If the tongue is in normal functioning condition, it is one of our greatest protectors against poisoning. A healthy tongue will usually detect any food that is not proper for human consumption;

Can the tongue pick out foreign bodies in food?

The tongue also has the ability to locate and pick out any foreign bodies such as a piece of bone, glass, or other objectionable matter which may have fallen into our food, prevents its swallowing, and offers it for expulsion from the mouth;

How does the process of preparing food for digestion take place?

As soon as food or drink is introduced into the mouth the tongue begins the process of preparing it for the next stage of the Digestive Process;

How does the chewing process start? What activates it?

The tongue automatically and mechanically places the food between the upper and lower teeth for chewing, always keeping itself out of danger of being bitten. Simultaneously, it also brings the cheeks and lips into play;

How does the mouthful of food become separated in the mouth?

With no conscious thought on your part, the tongue separates the food and spreads it out over the largest surface possible. This will allow the saliva and enzymes to mix in with the food for maximum benefit. This is another important reason for taking smaller mouthfuls;

What are the functions of saliva and enzymes in the mouth?

The tongue is a very sensitive organ and is kept moist by saliva, and it is richly supplied with nerves and blood vessels to help it move. Saliva is being produced throughout the day and night. The tongue is continuously at work distributing saliva throughout the mouth. Saliva is produced in the salivary glands. Human saliva is made up of 98% water, but it also contains many important substances, including electrolytes, mucus, antibacterial compounds and various enzymes.

Does saliva and enzymes mix in with the food?

This chewing process helps to expose and spread the food over as large an area as possible. This only possible with smaller mouthfuls Try it. As much as possible of the food’s surface area must be made available to chemical digestion. The saliva in the mouth moistens the food so it will travel more smoothly down the digestive tract. Ptyalin, an enzyme in saliva, begins to break down starch into simpler sugars;

Are all types of food dealt with in the same way in the mouth?

No. Starches are the foods that are kept in the mouth longest and acted upon by the enzymes in the mouth which aids digestion to a great extent;

I always seem to be eating” on the run”. Is this bad?

It is imperative to eat in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere, whilst chewing and masticating the food well. Eating in a rush and under tension is bad in so many ways. The whole digestive system will suffer. The brain will have trouble registering that you have eaten. Tension is exactly what is not needed.

Will counting the number times I chew every mouthful help me to chew well?

First and foremost, make it a habit to eat slowly, deliberately and in a relaxed fashion. Does counting the number of bites help? Our experience has shown that trying to count the number of bites does not work, as this will tend to make you concentrate on the jaws which then tire very quickly. This is not the natural and relaxing way of chewing or eating;

Does the tongue control the chewing process?

Not only that. The chewing process is instigated and controlled by the tongue. Retaining the food in the mouth until it is reduced to the smallest particles so that it eventually gets into a digestive juicy state is the ideal. The tongue will know when the food is ready to be swallowed. It will then guide the food (now “bolus”) to the next stage, and the whole digestive process will be improved immediately. So again, even if you have a problem with eating slowly, that’s fine as long as you chew the food thoroughly;

How do I discipline myself to take smaller mouthfuls?

Get to understand and visualize what goes on during the chewing process. Again we must emphasize that knowledge will help you understand the need for smaller mouthfuls, and if you achieve this small but important change, that in turn will help the tongue and the whole chewing process get the food in to a state that is required by this part of the digestive system. From then on it is beyond your control and you will feel much better for having done your part well. This process is of special help if your teeth are not in such a good condition;

What is “bolus”?

Throughout the process, the tongue is preparing the food (now referred to a “bolus”) for the next stage which is the swallowing stage;

Does the chewing process affect the elimination system?

It most certainly does. A strong digestive system will help create a strong elimination system;

So you are saying that the tongue is the key to a good digestive system?

That is 100% correct. All this work is the function of the tongue and its assistants. But you are the driver and the one in charge. If you do not allow the tongue to perform correctly, the other organs involved in the Digestive System will not be able to do their work as required for the body to obtain the nutrients as needed;

Can the tongue still function if I have some problem in my mouth?

You will only realize how efficiently and automatically the tongue functions until some disordered condition in the mouth comes about. An example would be toothache, tooth extraction and swelling of the gums, during which the tongue often gets bitten until it learns to adapt itself to these new conditions. In addition, the tongue must learn to guide the food to other parts of the mouth for mastication;

Does the tongue have a “normal” appearance?

You must become familiar with the condition of your own tongue. Try to regulate your life, particularly your eating habits, so that your tongue will be normal in appearance, and, if there is some change in its condition, make an effort to determine and eliminate the cause without delay.
When you become familiar with the normal condition and color of your own tongue, you should find it to be elimination system and not coated.
The tongue almost invariably becomes coated at the beginning of any illness, particularly in all feverish processes;
The tongue is examined and observed diagnostically in traditional Chinese medicine. A painful tongue may be an indication of several underlying medical conditions. Think how often your doctor would ask you to "stick out your tongue" at the outset of an examination for various symptoms, as white spots and patches or coating of the tongue is a symptom of several medical conditions;
Injury to the tongue is often very painful. The tongue is vulnerable to various cancers;
With the slightest indigestion it becomes dry and coated, particularly if you breathe through your mouth at night. If heavily and persistently coated, the cause may be serious indigestion or due to some mouth infection;

Does the tongue have any connection to bad breath?

A condition that our family and close friends are expected to tell us about, but often don't, is bad breath. This may be caused as the result of certain foods which have been eaten - onions, garlic and radishes being common sources of such odors. Tobacco and alcohol are also a source of much bad breath. Indigestion, infected mouth, infected tonsils, dry catarrh of the nose and throat, pyorrhea, trench mouth, decayed teeth, ill-fitting crowns, dirty bridges, decayed particles of food in the teeth, are other common causes. A bad breath is most disagreeable, something which can be difficult to tolerate by family, friends and business associates. It can have a serious bearing on your future success in life. Unless it is not possible to remove the cause through better living and eating habits as well as dental care, medical advice should be sought;

Why are some medications placed under the tongue?

Underneath the front of the tongue is a location where the oral mucosa is very thin. This is an ideal location for introducing certain medications to the body and allows for the speedy application of medication into the cardiovascular system, bypassing the gastrointestinal tract.
NOTE: This method must only be used under your doctor's directive;

A few other general wonders of the human tongue – appreciate them:

A person takes their temperature by placing the thermometer under the tongue;
As a muscle, the tongue is also important as a means of creating the negative pressure necessary for infants to suckle;
The tongue is a most important adjunct to correct speech. Its wide variety of movements allows us to form sounds for speech and song;
It is an essential tool for playing all musical instruments that need the initiation from the mouth;
The human tongue also plays a valuable role in other acts, such as for blowing bubbles and whistling;
Spitting, burping and coughing - all require the services of the tongue in different ways;
The tongue plays a primary role in certain forms of kissing known as "tongue kissing" or "French kissing". Generally, use of the tongue (such as licking), or interaction between tongues, appears to be a common gesture of affection, not just in humans but throughout the animal kingdom, and particularly in mammals;
The tongue is sometimes associated with sensual or erotic connotations;
Showing the tongue (pulling a tongue) is an international emotional gesture used primarily by children, or by adults behaving (deliberately or not) in a childish manner; Think how often you "lick your lips" especially during dry weather conditions;
Many people have a mysterious habit of sticking the tongue out when they are concentrating hard at some task or even whilst participating in a sports event - why?
The tongue also functions as an accessory organ for grooming and cleaning (by producing antibodies that protect the mouth), as well as for open wounds that an animal might clean with its tongue;
It has not been shown that human licking of wounds disinfects them, (as is the case with many in the animal kingdom), but licking can help to clean the wound by removing larger contaminants such as dirt and may help to directly remove infective bodies by brushing them away;
Therefore, licking could be an effective way of "washing" the wound, especially if purer water isn't available to the animal or person;
The tongue is often used as a figure of speech in different ways, for example as in the phrase "mother tongue".
In fact, many languages have the same word for "tongue" and "language".
A common temporary failure to remember a word is referred to as "on the tip-of-the-tongue".
Then there is the term "tongue in cheek".
"Tongue twisted" is a term used to describe being unable to pronounce a word or phrase correctly. A "tongue twister" is a phrase meaning that a sentence is difficult to pronounce.
Try, for a week or two, to think about the actions that the tongue is performing during your waking hours. Gain respect for it. By doing this, you will appreciate more and more the importance and the multitude of actions that the tongue is performing - without you ever thinking about it or having to activate it. The human tongue performs its tasks automatically. But in some important functions it needs your help and co-operation for your good.

How can the tongue be of help if I need to lose weight?

After taking heed of the wonders of the tongue, your overall health and eating habits will be much improved. Once the digestive system is given a chance to function more effectively, an additional and extremely important benefit is obtained for those who are looking to loose fat, whilst keeping those all-important muscles in tact, without dieting. You’ve gotta believe it!
Try it! It works!

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