A long time ago chewing gum was made from a natural rubber, from the sap of the sapodilla tree which is native to Central America. The sap was known as chicle. Later on chemists got involved in the gum-making business and developed synthetic ingredients to mimic chicle and even improve the taste of gum with a range of flavorful additives. Today’s various brands of gum include many types of ingredients and some are questionable and possibly downright suspect.
The International Chewing Gum Association asserts, “Only safe and approved ingredients are used in the manufacturing of chewing gum.” They also report that chewing gum is good for oral hygiene. On the other hand, an alternative medicine website deems chewing gum ingredients to be unsafe. They say gum labels are “deceptive” and ingredients like aspartame and sugar alcohols are toxic to the body.
So, without conclusive answers from internationally recognized authorities on the matter, should one chew gum or not? Let us look at some health benefits and risks and decide for ourselves.
• Reliefs Heartburn:
The saliva you create while chewing gum naturalizes the digestive stomach acid that had leaked into the esophagus. It also helps force fluids back into the stomach and therefore provides heartburn relief. Chewing gum for 30 minutes can give you relief from heartburn for up to three hours.
• Kills bacteria and freshens breath:
The more saliva you have in your mouth the fewer bacteria survive there. Some gum that includes a specific ingredient called xylitol increases salivation and prevents bacteria. Cinnamon flavors are the best to get rid of bacteria.
• Stops food cravings:
Those who chew gum after lunch eat fewer high-calorie snacks and have less feeling of hunger and cravings for sweets. The body burns around 10 calories an hour just by chewing.
• Has neurological symptoms:
People who are sensitive to aspartame, which is an artificial sweetener, may experience symptoms like headaches, dizziness, skin reactions, seizures and even depression. But for those of us who are a bit picky there are gums available that are sugar-free, aspartame-free, dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan.
• Creates diseases:
If your gum isn’t sweetened with aspartame then that means it is full of sugar, which is most likely the single greatest dietary cause of illnesses like cancer and diabetes.
• Ruins your teeth:
If you have braises that contain mercury you should avoid gum altogether. The few that have amalgam fillings should be very careful because constant chewing can break it down and result in the release of toxic mercury. It can also ruin all the work an orthodontist.
That is the question. The ancient Greeks valued “moderation” in all things. Perhaps a bit of gum chewing isn’t likely to lead to an early grave; on the other hand, it seems there’s no definitive reason to believe that excessive chewing will.