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Old 09-01-2010, 10:39 PM
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Default Chewing food vs. Swallowing food whole



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I haven't seen this anywhere yet and have always been a little curious about this.... We all have seen how Bear Grylls eats some really nasty stuff, and he always munches and chews it up really well and all that loveliness. But if you get lost and see something edible, but really gross to eat, how much nutrition and how many calories would you lose by swallowing it whole? I figure it would be easier to swallow a semi-grown pheasant fetus from an egg (in the newest MvW) than chewing it. But I would also venture a guess and say that the food swallowed whole would pass through you much quicker and wouldn't be digested as easily if at all, but is there any nutrient gain?

I've seen shows and documentaries where people are worried about eating something because they might throw up due to the food being so unappetizing and in turn lose even more water and energy, so it got me thinking. Would swallowing something whole help a person at all or would one just have to man up and chew it completely then swallow it for any nutrient/caloric gain?
Old 09-01-2010, 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Papa Sean View Post
I haven't seen this anywhere yet and have always been a little curious about this.... We all have seen how Bear Grylls eats some really nasty stuff, and he always munches and chews it up really well and all that loveliness. But if you get lost and see something edible, but really gross to eat, how much nutrition and how many calories would you lose by swallowing it whole? I figure it would be easier to swallow a semi-grown pheasant fetus from an egg (in the newest MvW) than chewing it. But I would also venture a guess and say that the food swallowed whole would pass through you much quicker and wouldn't be digested as easily if at all, but is there any nutrient gain?

I've seen shows and documentaries where people are worried about eating something because they might throw up due to the food being so unappetizing and in turn lose even more water and energy, so it got me thinking. Would swallowing something whole help a person at all or would one just have to man up and chew it completely then swallow it for any nutrient/caloric gain?
You do what you've gotta' do. YES, you will get more calories from things by chewing it up. But, it's better to swallow it than spew and lose a lot more.

When I first started eating insects and worms, I didn't want to chew, swallowed what I could or chewed very very minimally. Now, I've gotten over the "ew" factor. It doesn't gross me out usually, anymore. It always started with my dad challenging me to a cricket eating contest when we were in the bush. "Bet you can't eat it!" as he'd pop a couple in his mouth. Really conditioned me to get over it.

Practice it. There's nothing wrong with eating bugs. Get used to it, get good at it, and try to even enjoy it. That way, when you need to, it'll just be another day in the park. Start with cooked bugs, maybe meal worms or grasshoppers probably. Hide them in things like trail mix, cookies, what ever. Get over it. Then eat a cooked meal worm. Eat a raw meal worm. Then eat a live wiggling meal worm (fill in with what ever bug you're going for).

I can't bring myself to eat a fly though, or guacamole......

To more so answer your question: yes, you'll still get calories from swallowing things whole. A lot will be broken down by chemical digestion. Not as much though if you begin with the mechanical portion!
Old 09-01-2010, 11:08 PM
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First, I'd be very cautious taking Bear Grylls as a guide for how to behave in any survival situation. Just for fun, check youtube for "survival enema".

To your question. Chewing is a critical part of the digestion process for many foods. As an example, the nutritious parts of corn are inside the kernel, and short of chewing, the legendarily indigestible skins would protect the good bits all the way through your system. That said, most food is not so impervious. For the most part, chewing increases the surface area of what you're eating, but your body can make do if it has to. Basically, the smaller the pieces, the better the absorption. Basically, my view is this: if you're seriously concerned with vomiting, just down it, but if you're severely undernourished, man up and chew.

Alternatively, there's cooking and processing. I haven't seen the episode, so I don't know the circumstances, but if my only potential source of food was pheasant fetus, I'd chop it up until it was largely unrecognizable, and boil it. Just like chewing, cooking makes food easier to digest, in this case by denaturing and breaking down proteins. Besides, a chunky mystery soup sounds a lot better than fresh, uncooked fetus.
Old 09-01-2010, 11:15 PM
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First, I'd be very cautious taking Bear Grylls as a guide for how to behave in any survival situation. Just for fun, check youtube for "survival enema".

To your question. Chewing is a critical part of the digestion process for many foods. As an example, the nutritious parts of corn are inside the kernel, and short of chewing, the legendarily indigestible skins would protect the good bits all the way through your system. That said, most food is not so impervious. For the most part, chewing increases the surface area of what you're eating, but your body can make do if it has to. Basically, the smaller the pieces, the better the absorption. Basically, my view is this: if you're seriously concerned with vomiting, just down it, but if you're severely undernourished, man up and chew.

Alternatively, there's cooking and processing. I haven't seen the episode, so I don't know the circumstances, but if my only potential source of food was pheasant fetus, I'd chop it up until it was largely unrecognizable, and boil it. Just like chewing, cooking makes food easier to digest, in this case by denaturing and breaking down proteins. Besides, a chunky mystery soup sounds a lot better than fresh, uncooked fetus.
Bear was just an example, I definitely know not to follow what he does in survival situations. I just watch the show to see if I pick up any little tidbits and see the different terrains. Hah trust me, I definitely wouldn't go giving myself enemas or make ziplines or half the dangerous stuff he does. People who emulate him and believe what he does is safe and justified in a survival situation won't be surviving for long. Just an example since he's so well known for eating some pretty putrid stuff on his show.
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Old 09-02-2010, 12:19 AM
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Bear was just an example, I definitely know not to follow what he does in survival situations.
lol, good to hear, just wanted to be sure.
Old 09-02-2010, 12:28 AM
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Chewing is more important for vegetable material than for meat. Plants have hard cell walls made of cellulose that need to get broken down to get to the stuff inside. Meat doesn't have cell walls, rather it has cell membranes which are themselves digestible.

Still you should cook and chew whenever possible. Obviously cooking kills pathogens which ANY animal protein source may contain, scorpions and larvae included. Chewing mixes saliva with the food which begins the digestive process and by dividing food very finely it speeds up the process. Wolfing food down also increases the chances of an obstructed airway. Heimlich maneuver anyone?

Rotted food contains not only pathogens but large quantities of the the toxins the pathogens produced. If it smells bad, don't eat it. You don't have the digestive track of a vulture.
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Old 09-02-2010, 10:05 AM
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Thanks everybody, I figured that the answer would be along the lines of y'alls responses, but it was good to get some confirmation. Thanks a lot for the clarification!
Old 09-02-2010, 11:10 AM
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Bear munches on things with his mouth half open so the cameraman can get a good shot of him doing something gross that will please a TV audience. You will be just fine swallowing a grub or worm whole.
Old 09-02-2010, 11:13 AM
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I saw that last night. Nasty!!!
Old 09-02-2010, 11:13 AM
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Next week it's gonna be Fan vs. Wild. He's gonna have two fans with him. I hope he doesn't get anybody killed...
Old 09-02-2010, 07:18 PM
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Do you want to go to Heaven and tell St. Peter you are there early because you got a whole dung beetle lodged in your windpipe? All the other dead survivalist would laugh at you and pick fun.
Old 09-02-2010, 08:20 PM
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Most wild foods are not eaten because of social customs, In the far east almost anything goes.
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