Why Eating with Hand is Good for Health
Eating is the process of ingestion of food, mostly to provide us heterotrophic organisms with energy, growth and maintenance. Eating food with hands has been in practice for thousands of years, mostly in the East. It is the most refined, scientific, spiritual and logical phenomenon, connecting body – mind – soul as one.
From an evolutionary standpoint, the fingers were a naturally evolved, very refined set of tools, to handle and eat food. It developed in a way where it enhanced the natural experience of eating. It also helped with practical digestion and assimilation of food in the most effective and balanced manner.
Let us discuss the scientific reasons and benefits of using hands to eat :
NERVE ENDINGS ON FINGER TIPS
It is a scientifically proven fact that our finger tips have millions of nerve endings which are highly sensitive and sophisticated. They have the ability to sense even the most minute details. Based on the reading, it processes and sends relevant signals to the brain and the rest of the bod
According to Ayurveda, the nerve endings of the fingertips are believed to boost digestion. The nerve endings at the finger tips are hyper sensitive to the temperature and texture of the food. Research has proven that the body reacts to the touch of the food by releasing the required chemicals, even before the food reaches the mouth.
Based on the information collected by the fingers, the brain triggers the release of relevant digestive juices. This process pre-preps the stomach to receive the food and start the digestion quickly and effectively.
ENERGY TRANSFER FROM FINGER TO FOOD
As per the ancient scriptures, the Universe is made up of five basic elements namely : Fire, Air, Space, Earth and Water. Per Ayurvedictext, fingers are considered an extension and receivers of these five elements. Henceforth, each finger represents a particular element of nature.
Thumb represents : Fire / Agni
Index finger resents : Air / Varun
Middle finger represents : Space / Akash
Ring finger represents : Earth / Prithvi
Little finger represents : Water / Jal
The five components are activated when the fingertips touch the food, thereby energizing the food with cosmic energy. As the hand touches the food, it not only stimulates these five elements, but also helps in releasing the digestive juices in the stomach. It transfers the energy from food to finger to body. The collective energy and transfer of these five elements also helps with better assimilation of food in the body.
Video Link : Benefits of Eating with Hands by Dr Mini Nair
HEALTHY BACTERIA PROMOTES HEALTHY DIGESTION
A WHO study shows how human body has millions of bacterial flora, residing on the palm and fingers of the hand, mouth, throat, intestine and gut. These are very important in protecting one from the damaging and harmful micro-organisms found in the environment. When one eats with their hands, the healthy bacterial flora on the finger tips is swallowed along with the food. As a result, it protects the digestive system from getting exposed to any harmful bacteria. The presence of these friendly bacteria’s help in promoting healthy digestion in the gut.
Eating with spoon for long time can result in lesser effectiveness to these healthy and natural bacterial germs.
HEIGHTENED SENSORY EXPERIENCE
Food is known to evoke strong emotions of security, togetherness, fulfillment and passion. Eating is a very sensory experience, involving our sense of smell, sight, touch and taste. Since so much of taste and enjoyment of food is about texture, the hands function as a perfect tool for exploring the feel, consistency and make-up of the food.
The wholesome experience of the senses makes the food taste and feel better. Eating with fingers, sums up all the above sensory experiences in every morsel. The touch and feel of the food on the fingers prepares the mind to get ready for food, thus saliva builds up in the mouth to receive food. This is immediately activated as soon as the fingers touch the food.
HELPS IN WEIGHT REDUCTION
A study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology showed that families who ate by hand were more in touch with eating concepts. They avoided unnecessary snacking and ate only when hungry. They were also found to be more receptive to paying attention to their fullness cues. The study found that 8 to 12-year-old overweight children cut down on binge eating episodes, once they were trained to eat by hand, thus becoming healthier overtime.
Eating with hand regulates the hormone Leptin more efficiently. Leptin is produced by the body’s fat cells. It is carried by the bloodstream into the brain, where it sends a signal to the hypothalamus — the part of brain that controls when and how much you eat. It tells the brain, when one has had enough food and they need to stop eating anymore. As bites are smaller and eating is slower by hand, it gives enough time for the hormone to work properly, for it to register and communicate with the brain in time.
Two studies published in the journal Appetite found that when people ate by hand while simultaneously reading a newspaper or watching TV, they were less hungry at snack-time. That led to them opting for a smaller snack, resulting in reduced calories during the day. Researchers have concluded that eating by hand promoted a sense of fullness and satiety in comparison to eating with fork and knife. This helped the subjects to loose weight faster.
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MORE HYGIENIC THAN SILVERWARE
Contrary to the popular misconception, eating with hands is actually more hygienic and less risky than eating with any silverware. When using fork and knife, one has to depend on the cleaning staff to handle it properly. One needs to trust that they will not be negligent in the cleaning, storing and serving process.
Whereas if one uses their own hands, they are self dependent for cleaning. All they need to do is to wash their hands properly every time before consuming food. Thus we are directly responsible for our hygiene and cleanliness and not dependent on other’s cleaning standards.
Also, one does not need to carry any cutlery with them. Nature has already provided us with our very own personal fork, knife, spoon and cup, for our convenience and practical use. It is with us all the time, without any burden of remembering and carrying the luggage.
HELPS IN PREVENTING TYPE 2 DIABETES
A new study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition found that people with type 2 diabetes were more likely to be fast eaters. It was observed that people with Type 2 diabetes, preferred to use cutlery to eat, as compared to people without the condition. Studies have shown that eating to quickly and fast is linked to blood-sugar imbalances in the body. This imbalance is a factor contributing to the development of Type 2 diabetes.
Eating with hand is a more conscious process which slows down the eating time. It creates a more wholesome food experience. Also, when eating slowly, the brain gets enough time to respond when full. All these small changes result in better sugar balance in the body.
ACTS AS A PRE-FILTER
Hands and fingers act like a checklist to make sure what one is going to put in their body is safe for consumption. When one uses their hands to eat, they can first check the temperature or any other stuff like bone or seed etc. before eating. This helps them not to burn their tongue with hot food, or get something accidentally lodged in the throat. One gets to feel the temperature and texture of the food and then decide whether to actually consume it or not. Its like a pre-filter to judge, assess and then decide to consume it or not. A person gets to keep itself safe with this strategy for every bite, avoiding any accidents throughout the meal. It also enhances the individual’s awareness for the textures, taste and aromas as they eat engaging their fingertips.
HELPS MANAGE PORTION CONTROL
When one eats the food with hands, more cautious consideration is given to every bite. One is more aware of how the food is picked up, what temperature the food is, what amount of food can be taken, and how the hand must be held to keep the food in it. Every hand is in proportion to its body, height and age. So every morsel is exactly proportionate to the individuals custom need. Unlike a standard spoon size for all ages, gender, body type, every hand and finger is unique to its requirement.
A child’s finger will only hold enough food in one go, which is totally proportionate to the size of its mouth and body. Likewise, a smaller body type will have smaller fingers and larger one will have similarly proportionate hands. A woman’s fingers will hold smaller portion in relation to a taller man.
Also, eating with hands makes one eat slowly. This gives the food enough time to reach the intestines and hormones to signal the brain when full. This process also aids the body with better digestion avoiding any stomach related issues.
INCREASES BLOOD CIRCULATION
Eating with hands is an excellent exercise for the arm, hand , mouth, neck and stomach muscles. This simple and gentle exercise while eating, increases the blood circulation in the body. The result is increased oxygen in the blood leading to better digestion. The excessive movement of the hands may help keep the blood flow smoother.
Nature has already provided us with the most efficient and organic ‘silverware’. We should never be apologetic to use these as intended. If someone objects, feel free to share your knowledge and reasons with them. Then let them make their own decision for their mind-body-soul. Eating with hand is not only practical but it provides a host of other benefits like fulfillment, improved digestion, spiritual progress and convenience.
Very scientific approach to a traditional way of eating. I learnt a great deal from it and it does make a lot of sense as well. From purely health point of view, I will definitely try it out for a couple of days.