Is chewing gum a habit of yours? Do you believe it can clean your teeth, or is it just a fun habit for you?
Do you know that chewing gum actually has a long tradition? People were chewing herbs and natural resins and gums, like mastic gum, for example, because it has powerful antiseptic and antibacterial properties.
Unfortunately, nowadays, most of the chewing gums are made from synthetic rubber with added flavorings and artificial sweeteners.
So, here are the good and bad sides of chewing gum, followed by some explanations about myths connected to the habit of chewing gum.
Can chewing gum actually help you to lose weight?
NOT REALLY! The myth is that chewing a gum whenever feeling like craving for snacks or food, can reduce your appetite, and also, send false signals to your brain that you have eaten something because you’re chewing, thus, the brain will signal the gut to produce more gut hormones to resolve the food, fastening up your metabolism.
Here are the actual results of a study. “When 30 volunteers chewed sugar-free gum for an hour (3 sessions of 20 min each) their metabolic rate increased to 1.23 kcal/min compared with 1.17 kcal/min on a day when they did not chew gum. Not that much difference, really”.
Chewing gum is good for digestion?
YES, because chewing and the production of saliva in the mouth is actually the first step of the digestion process, you could say that chewing contributes to a faster metabolism and improves digestion. If you have problems with your teeth and eat without chewing, you will feel bloated and gassy.
Chewing triggers the brain to send signals to the gut to create more acids and enzymes to process the food that is on the way, and also, sends signals to the intestines to start working and also make bowel movements. So, chewing a gum after a meal can help with digestion. Just don’t chew it for too long.
Chewing gum can trigger a headache?
YES. Chewing is a process that activates so many muscles, you can even feel tired! The facial muscles are tiny, but so many. The study showed that “when 30 teenagers with migraine-like headaches were asked to stop chewing gum for a month, 26 reported significant improvement in their headaches and 19 experienced a full ‘cure’. When the habit was reintroduced, however, their headaches recurred within days”.
Chewing gum can make your jaw hurt
YES. Logically, the more you chew, the more you are wasting the muscles on your head and jaw, including the most valuable one, called TMJ – temporomandibular joint, which is located between the jaw bone and the skull. Without this, you wouldn’t be able to move your jaw, thus, you wouldn’t be able to chew or talk! There is a TMJ syndrome that can occur because of grinding the teeth while sleeping, or simply because of too much chewing gum!
Chewing gum protects against tooth decay
YES. Chewing gum stimulates the production of saliva and flows away all the bacteria that tend to stick on your teeth. Also, “Xylitol, a sweetener that’s commonly used in gum, also suppresses the growth of mouth bacteria (Streptococcus mutans) and may protect against dental decay”, the study confirmed.
Chewing Gum Enhances Concentration
NOT REALLY. Activating the muscles on your face can help you be more alert and improve productivity and concentration. This is true, because of the added sweeteners, caffeine and peppermint refresh. But that’s all.
The study actually proved that “the volunteers were wired up for EEG brainwave recordings showed that, when they chewed gum, they had a significantly reduced stress response to loud, unpleasant noises than when they weren’t chewing gum”.
Chewing gum makes you belch
YES. The more you chew and open your mouth, the more air you swallow. This can contribute to “gastric belch”, which is a common problem when the air reaches the stomach. That might also contribute to the production of gasses and make awkward situations for you during the day.