Whole foods are chewy

Whole foods are chewy and so are shunned by society. Are you choosing convenience over quality? Danger lies ahead.

No doubt about it, whole foods are chewy; and we humans do not like it. And we pay an awful price for our refusal to make the time to masticate fibrous vegetables and fruits methodically and thoroughly. I don’t really have an answer to this but can tell you that, like our taste buds, lips and tongues can be retrained. I know because I have done it successfully myself.

Surprisingly chewing also fends off dementia.

Fava beans with cream and thyme.

Take the pulp out of orange juice and you lose more than half of the vitamins and minerals and may get a mild dose of scurvy to boot; feeling tired or depressed? Remove the bran from wheat and you have extracted the lignans that help prevent breast tumours.

The discovery of the first vitamin, named B1, thiamine came from a very observant doctor who noted that the chickens of the wealthy who could afford white rice also suffered from the same terminal neurological disease that was killing millions of Chinese. It could be cured only by feeding them the bran[4].

But still today despite the science we humans eschew whole chewy foods and insist on enjoying polished white rice.

One could go on at length. South Africans are obese because of our love of cake flour and sugar too; over a quarter of our children are permanently stunted because the chief grain eaten is super refined maize-meal.  Most of the protein, vitamins and minerals have been extracted.

100% wholemeal corn porridge is one of our favourites; grits in America.

Yellow cornmeal porridge.

My own particular problem was serious constipation. I remember from childhood being given awful enemas because days would pass with no stool; and then it became impacted and very painful. Eventually I worked it out that the solution was fibre; lots of it. But that means chewy foods and initially I fought against it.

Fibre is that part of plant food that we cannot digest but it has a vital function to play in the colon. It gives the stool bulk and makes going to the toilet a two-minute affair, regular as clockwork. But you do have to chew; it takes time which is probably the underlying problem. We humans love to eat on the run or feel we have to; instead we spend much longer grunting and groaning on the loo.

Researchers have found that the prevalence of colorectal cancer in younger adults is increasing annually at between 1 to 2.2% depending of age.

There’s often no time to be had for chewing our food in this fast-paced world.

Researchers have also found that there is a twofold improvement in the symptoms associated with constipation by simply taking a daily walk. Exercise after a starchy meal also means less of a surge in blood sugar associated with carbs.

More fiber or colorectal cancerMore fibre or colorectal cancer?

The second important function of fibre is that it supplies what is known as a prebiotic. We cannot digest it, but the teeming billions of the microflora that inhabit our intestines wait eagerly for it to arrive; they can and do break it down, producing in the process a huge number of very important substances like short-chain fatty acids.

They are the main source of energy for the cells lining the colon; but also have a huge role to play in preventing diabetes, heart conditions and inflammatory-diseases.

Eventually the penny dropped. I either had to spend more time chewing and embracing whole foods without irritation and impatience, or many hours sitting on the loo and consulting doctors. And taking medication for cholesterol and angry, inflamed organs; and perhaps even insulin. I am already prediabetic because of the early years when I was indifferent to what I ate.

Now I can confirm what scientists have proved conclusively; that type-2 diabetes can be put completely into remission without the use of medication[5]. Since my conscious change to more chewy foods and short brisk walks after starchy meals my HbA1c has dropped to 5.4; completely normal.

Broad beans open pods.

The current issue is our broad beans, also known as favas. Humans by and large avoid them because they have a lot of fibre, and are certainly chewy when they get older. But they also have the greatest percentage of plant protein of all legumes after soyas, and are the only readily available natural source of L-dopa, an extremely important chemical for the brain.

Learn more about what's potting in our winter garden.

That fava beans with cream and thyme in the graphic at the top is just wonderful.

Initially all that increased fibre may cause bloating and discomfort; those bacteria in the gut go on a feeding frenzy, and produce a lot of gas. It’s another of the main reasons why modern man avoids fibrous food. I have three solutions.

  1. Firstly simply chew it properly; take time over your meals. That alone will be hugely beneficial to family-life.
  2. Then there’s strong research proving that less salt means reduced bloating, with other rewards like fewer blood-pressure pills.
  3. And thirdly start making one of the probiotic foods; kefir is by far the easiest to my mind, but homemade sauerkraut for example makes a wonderful side-dish. It too is chewy.
The purple power of mulberries.

When we returned from a stint overseas, we found to our horror that our tiny grandchild was suffering terribly from constipation, just like her grandfather once did. There was talk of operations, pilonidal cysts and other horrid procedures. Granny took her every morning down to the mulberry tree that was in fruit at the time; in just one week the problem was over. Ten-years later she still loves them.

"In the UK ultra-processed foods account for around 60% of total energy intake, while fibre consumption lags behind at just over half the recommended intake.” 

- Dr Claire Merrifield, MD

Fruit, vegetables and whole grains, that’s where the fibre is to be found. We either eat them, or suffer from a whole lot of very nasty maladies. For me personally what works best is greens at least twice a day, often thrice.

Check out the “Bristol stool chart”[2]; it grades your poop from type 1 which is like nuts, to the ideal 4, that is snake-like, smooth and soft. Diarrhoea is level 7. It’s all about fibre, bowel disease, and probiotic foods like kefir. 

Purple power smoothie.

Our purple power smoothie provides both fibre and the probiotic for the gut; and tastes divine. But it is only when we become passionate about our well-being that we will make the time to pick the berries, pressure cook the beets, and five-minutes to prepare kefir. It doesn't just happen; a conscious decision is made only when we tire of consulting doctors, taking medication and suffering from maladies like daily pain in the tum, and constipation. 

There is a tide in the affairs of men. Taken at the flood it leads on to fortune, and greater well-being. Take a tip from the bard and seize the day.

Whole grains

No question of it, whole foods are chewy and that includes bread from 100pc flour; it contains all the bran and germ which is where the fibre, protein and nutritious oils are found.

To re-establish the intestinal microbes you have to feed them with more fibre.

The benefits are simply vast. Researchers at Denmark's Aarhus University followed a very large group of people who ate what they called "sustainable and mainly plant-based foods." They had a significantly lower risk of ischemic and intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke[3].

They emphasized whole grains, vegetables and fruits; legumes and nuts too. And lower amounts of beef, oils and sugar were eaten.

100pc sourdough loaf of bread that has been sliced.

Whole foods are chewy


Whole foods are chewy but we pay a terrible price if we avoid them; they are at the heart of the happy tum feeding the microbiota and preventing constipation.

"For me what works best is greens at least twice a day; three times and I absolutely zero problems with the stool. But that's purely anecdotal; you could be quite different."

- Dr Bernard Preston

Eggs Hilton is a great favourite in our home; the spinach provides the fibre for my tum.

Eggs Hilton poaching.

A daily bowl of porridge made with this steel-cut oats recipe will drop your cholesterol by over ten percent.

Steel-cut whole toasted oats are quite chewy.


Helen's fifteen euro salad is what cured my constipation initially. No question of it, it's a long, chewy but sociable meal.

A divine green salad.

Sourdough bread made with 100 percent real flour is slightly more chewy but it's loaded with the good stuff; and tastes divine.

100pc wholemeal sourdough bread.


A lightly-fried onion on which kale or spinach and a legume such as green peas are steamed provides yet more fibre-rich whole foods which are chewy.

Kale and green peas for more whole green foods.

If you suffer from heartburn, plant a susu. It's only an anecdote but enjoyed for supper it cured my indigestion. It is quite chewy if eaten raw but not as a cooked vegetable. 

Planetary health diet wagon-wheel.


Our newsletter is entitled "create a cyan zone" at your home, preserving both yourself and Mother Earth for future generations; and your family too, of course. We promise not to spam you with daily emails promoting various products. You may get an occasional nudge to buy one of my books.

Here are the back issues.

  • What are ultra-processed foods?
  • Investing in long-term health
  • Diseases from plastic exposure
  • Intensive lifestyle management for obesity has limited value
  • A world largely devoid of Parkinson's Disease
  • The impact of friendly bacteria in the tum on the prevention of cancer
  • There's a hole in the bucket
  • Everyone is talking about weight loss drugs
  • Pull the sweet tooth
  • If you suffer from heartburn plant a susu
  • Refined maize meal and stunting
  • Should agriculture and industry get priority for water and electricity?
  • Nature is calling
  • Mill your own flour
  • Bake your own sourdough bread
  • Microplastics from our water
  • Alternative types of water storage
  • Wear your clothes out
  • Comfort foods
  • Create a bee-friendly environment
  • Go to bed slightly hungry
  • Keep bees
  • Blue zone folk are religious
  • Reduce plastic waste
  • Family is important
  • What can go in compost?
  • Grow broad beans for longevity
  • Harvest and store sunshine
  • Blue zone exercise
  • Harvest and store your rainwater
  • Create a cyan zone at your home

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56 Groenekloof Rd,

Hilton, KZN

South Africa