Popular believe have it that chewing gum is not good for your teeth. And yet, that isn’t deterring anyone from eating them.
Chewing gum is by now a commonplace that no one questions or stops to think twice before putting one in the mouth. Well, maybe they will stop to check the flavor.
Is chewing gum bad for you?
Chewing gum with sugar is definitely bad for you. The bacteria in the mouth “feeds” of this sugar, multiplying and promoting tooth decay by increasing plaque and producing an acid that destroys enamel.
However, when it comes to the sugarless varieties, the answer isn’t so straightforward. They can present both benefits and side-effects, but even scientific researchers cannot agree on a definite conclusion.
What are its benefits?
The benefits of chewing gum with sugar don’t really matter as the sweetener brings too many side-effects attached. The sugar-free varieties, however, do have some added-value to them and they can work as tricks for some ailments or discomforts.
It can prevent tooth decay
Funny enough, despite being accused of ruining teeth, sugar-free chewing gum can actually help to prevent tooth decay. The reason lies in the increase of saliva that it triggers, which in turn supports cleaner teeth by eliminating bacteria. The efficiency of the gum is also related to its flavor since it can affect the pH level of saliva.
It can support a better memory
This is one of the benefits of chewing gum where researchers cannot agree.
Some studies have shown that eating a chewing gum has a distracting effect at first, but it improves memory after an average of 20 minutes. However, different researchers have found the opposite effect: chewing gum would improve memory in the first 20 minutes, but progressively lose its power.
And then, there are other studies that could not find any correlation between chewing gum and the memory.
The reason for this effect is not clear. Nevertheless, scientists believe it might be related with the muscle relaxation it produces, the increased blood flow to the brain or a memory.
It can decrease your appetite
Chewing gum supposedly affect the appetite, reducing it and thus promoting weight loss.
In a 2008 research, concluded that the flavor and ingredients on the chewing gum can influence the appetite at different rates. A different research from 2011 individuals saw their hunger and cravings for snacks reduced by 10%.
Researchers have replicated these results since then and they now speculate that this effect might be possibly related to the chewing gum effect over the digestive hormones linked to satiety.
It helps reduce stress and anxiety
Chewing on this type of candies does more than relaxing the jaws and the muscles in the mouth. It also calms down the brain and the body in general. The reason is simple: chewing is a relaxing activity for most people.
It is also a better nervous habit than biting your nails or pulling your hair, for instance. According to a 2011 experiment, the individuals presented a decrease in their anxiety levels, lighter moods and lower fatigue after chewing gum for 14 days than the placebo group.
Munching a gum can help you keep your eyes open and sleepiness at bay by increasing the brain alertness. This effect can be helpful when performing an exam or when the job requires attentiveness.
The reason why it has this effect still requires further study.
This is one of the most quoted benefits of chewing gum, especially because it presents itself as a natural solution for such an uncomfortable condition.
Calcium carbonate, a filler used to give texture to the gum, has presented some good indicators that it can neutralize oesophageal acidity. However, the effectiveness of chewing gum is mostly related to the increase in saliva production and swallowing. Both the fluids as well as the movement, help clean the esophagus and clear the acid.
What are the side-effects?
There is a yin to every yang, and chewing gums are not an exception. Again, the sugary varieties are simply unhealthy. However, the sugar-free varieties aren’t exempt from a few risks either.
They make you prefer junk food
Yes, eating a gum can reduce your appetite and help you lose weight. However, and this is a big catch, it will also switch your preferences to rather unhealthy food.
This is most likely due to the fresh flavor of the gums, which alters the taste of fresh food like fruits and veggies to an unpleasant one.
For starters, sugar-free chewing gum usually employs sugar substitutes, such as artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols to reach a more pleasant flavor, without the side-effects of sugar. If eaten excessively, these sweeteners can have a laxative effect and trigger nausea, diarrhea and vomits.
Plus, whenever you’re munching on a gum, you also swallow air, which can either come out again as a burp or it will go through the digestive system cause bloating, abdominal pain and flatulence.
Temporomandibular disorder (TMD)
According to a 2014 research, intensive and continuous chewing can lead to a temporomandibular disorder.
This condition results from an overuse of the jaw, muscles and joints, which can turn painful. Furthermore, the jaw movement also implies moving the neck, the head. Either by overuse or as a side-effect from TMD, eating a gum can then also trigger headaches and earaches.
Chewing gum hacks
Since the word “benefits” encompasses more than just advantages for health, you can find in the video below 5 amazing hacks you can also use chewing gum for.