There are some obvious benefits to chewing gum. It tastes delicious and can be pretty entertaining. You can blow bubbles, make loud snapping noises (also, irritating to all others around you), and gives something for your teeth to do when they are not busy chewing. Of course, there are also downfalls as anyone who has accidentally touched someone else’s gum on the bottom of a chair is well aware of.
Many people think that the downfalls of gum far outweigh the benefits. Anyone who has had to scrape gum off of his or her shoes will agree. However, many people overlook some of the less obvious benefits of chewing gum, and new research has revealed that gum may be even more beneficial to your health than previously thought.
Chewing gum may curb certain cravings. Hunger for example, develops based on signals sent to the brain. After you eat, your body sends these signals telling your brain to cease the hunger pangs. Signals are sent when you chew, swallow or consume certain substances. Apples, for example, contain a high amount of fiber, which creates the sensation of being more full than with other foods. When you chew gum, you are sending signals to your brain that suggest you are eating. Chewing regular gum, as opposed to nicotine gum, can even help in tobacco cessation.
Studies from Wrigley, which some claim may contain bias since the studies were performed with the intention of selling gum, show that there are educational benefits to chewing gum. In their study, researchers recorded the grades of two groups of students. One group chewed gum while doing schoolwork, while the other group did not. The group that chewed gum increased their grades by three percentage points, and their average final grades were higher overall.
Independent studies also show some benefits to chewing gum. The American Dental Association has stated that, after meals, chewing sugar-free gum may help combat tooth decay. Other research shows that saliva produced from chewing gum may reduce the symptoms of acid reflux.
Some people may think that there are some dangers to chewing gum. The long-lasting myth that, if you swallow gum, it will be in your system for seven years has deterred children from chewing gum for decades. Though it is true that the body cannot break down and digest chewing gum like it does with most food, chewing gum still passes through your system at a similar rate as other foods. Young children, however, should stay away from chewing gum due to the potential choking hazard.
Many of the issues that may arise from chewing gum come from the specific flavoring. Cinnamon flavoring can cause mouth ulcers and licorice flavoring may cause low blood potassium. Other possible problems may arise from too much chewing, so it is important to know when to stop. Jaw pain or discomfort is a sign that you should take a break from chewing. The only other thing to worry about is the agent that is used to sweeten the gum. Sugar gum may cause some tooth decay. Sugar-free gum is generally sweetened with aspartame, which has been known to cause serious health problems when consumed excessively.
So as long as you use some discretion in the amount and flavor of the gum you chew, there are no serious health issues that should prevent you from enjoying a stick of it. But please, keep it away from desks, chairs, and hair.