There’s no doubt about it, chewing gum is a popular pastime. In fact, you may be surprised to know that the average American chews around 300 sticks of gum a year! Even more impressive? The gum chewing market is estimated to reach $8.1 Billion in the year 2020 in the United States. With that being said, the selection of chewing gums in market is huge!
So, you may be wondering - is all this gum chewing really good for us?
Well, to be honest, the answer is yes and no. Allow me to explain….
First, it’s important that I point out that not all chewing gums are created equal. Many major gum brands on the market have sugar, corn syrup, cornstarch, and other artificial flavor enhancers included. Many people consider chewing gum to be very similar to eating candy – and why wouldn’t they, if the product is loaded with sugar? It’s probably no coincidence that chewing gum is also conveniently stocked right next to the candy bars on supermarket shelves! I don’t know about all of you reading this, but I try to avoid putting any chemicals or synthetic substances into my body, including those I chew!
In fact, here is a list of harmful components I watch out for and recommend my clients avoid when selecting and purchasing a chewing gum:
Aspartame. This is an artificial sweetener added to most gums on the market. Studies show it turns into wood alcohol in your body and formaldehyde. Just so you’re aware, one is a poison, while the other is a carcinogen. Yikes!
Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT). This is a common preservative in many gums. It is actually banned in several countries around the world except for the U.S. This ingredient is linked to health problems such as hyperactivity, toxicity in your organs, liver and kidney damage and more. The more you consume, the higher your risk for these problems.
Artificial colorings. Artificial colors contain various chemicals and are commonly derived from petroleum products. Although they have been linked to many health concerns, including allergic reactions, behavioral changes, and even cancer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to allow them to be used in food and gum!
So, you can see, as with any other food product purchase, it really pays to read the label on that pack of gum before you buy it. One of my favorite natural chewing gums that isn’t full of chemicals is of course Mighty Gum! They’re classified as a “functional chewing gum” because they include beneficial ingredients such as ashwagandha, astragalus, elderberry and reishi mushroom to give your immune system a good boost. It also includes 6 natural vitamins which are derived from fruit. Most importantly? No aspartame, no sugar, no artificial flavors!
I consider Mighty Gum to be a chewy treat that makes my days a little bit sweeter. (I’m obsessed with it’s tangy flavor!) Every time I whip out my pack of gum in public almost every hand around me shoots out to snag a piece. I can’t blame them! Chewing gum is a favorite. But why is it so loved? I can’t tell you for sure but what I can do is tell you about some of the awesome benefits of chewing gum:
It’s a memory booster and fights drowsiness.
Studies have shown that gum enhances mental performance and cognitive functions, such as concentration and memory. It also improves a person’s focus because it is said to increase blood flow to the brain from the movement of your jaw.
It helps to reduce stress.
Chewing gum can be one technique to help combat stress and anxiety. What an excellent alternative to other nervous habits, such as nail-biting! Many sports team coaches use gum to relieve their pressure before a big game. I have an alternate theory that there is something about the taste and smell of gum that elicits the parasympathetic state or the relaxation response in our body.
It provides dental benefits.
Studies show that chewing gum for just 20 minutes after meals and snacks can help protect your teeth from tooth decay. While chewing gum shouldn’t replace brushing and flossing your teeth, it sure comes in handy after eating and drinking. It can also help temporarily prevent or relieve bad breath.
It may help you stop smoking.
As a Health Coach, I know that chewing gum is no magic bullet to quitting smoking, but it can certainly help. Chewing gum has been known to help moderate the oral cravings of cigarettes which may help when trying to kick the habit.
It can fight nausea.
For natural relief against nausea, try chewing a safe and natural gum. Research even suggests that chewing a piece of gum could be more effective than leading drugs for nausea! It is said that the saliva production helps to soothe acid and stomach irritability.
It can help to reduce ear pain.
I love to travel, and chewing gum is one of the things I always do during takeoff and landing. It definitely helps to relieve that painful clogged feeling in my ears when changing air pressure! While some people believe that it's the chewing motion that works your jaws in a way that makes your ears pop, it's actually the fact that the chewing motion encourages saliva production and therefore swallowing. The act of swallowing forces the Eustachian tube to open, which in turn makes your ears pop!
It can prevent snacking.
It’s easy to grab some snacks when we feel a little bit hungry. I know I’m guilty of snacking a bit too much on certain days. Gum is a great solution! It helps take the initial edge off of hunger and helps you avoid overeating. Plus, who wants to put food in their mouth when it’s feeling so fresh and happy?! Not me!
So, with all this in mind, maybe it’s time for you to start chewing more gum? Just be sure to be “choosy” when choosing your gum of choice. As you’ve just learned, chewing the right kind of gum can yield numerous benefits for your health!
Board-Certified Integrative Health Coach