We learn in school that the first step of digestion is in our mouth. When the tongue feels stimulated by the taste of food, it sends a signal to the brain to secrete the right digestive juices and enzymes. This process is essential for assimilation of nutrients and elimination of waste. So you ‘by hearted’ this in school but it didn’t quite touch your heart? Here’s an example.Your grandmom told you that betel leaf is a great source of iron and you scoffed and figured that she comes up with ‘excuses’ to validate her paan addiction. Your child informs you that he will eat spinach today because Popeye says it’s a rich source of iron. You weep and drown in tears of joy. You tweet that kids today are so smart, and so well-informed because of all the ‘exposure’ they receive, blah, blah.
The thing is, your grandmom is right and Popeye’s spiel iron is a myth. Betel leaf has five times more iron than spinach! Yeah, pick up your jaw. When you learnt all about digestion in your science class you also learnt that iron can’t be absorbed without its cofactors, the vit B and vit C. Betel leaf is an abundant source of these vitamins too along with carotene, that’s Vit A, and has enzymes that aid digestion. Now you see why your grand old lady is chewing it post-lunch and has a memory of an elephant?
She knows that chewing paan with lime, gulkand, clove etc (not tobacco) allows the secretion of enzymes required to absorb and assimilate the iron without loading her gastro intestinal tract. Come on, go tweet about your grandmom’s wisdom now!