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The Pros and Cons of Chewing Gum

chewing gumIn addition to lip chap and my cell phone, gum rounds out my list of essential purse items. But when it comes to chewing gum in general, how much do we really know about these tasty, rubbery pieces we regularly munch on? Are there any benefits to chomping?

Health Benefits

  • Heartburn relief: In 2005, researchers found that the saliva stimulated by chewing seemed to neutralize the digestive stomach acid that had leaked into the esophagus. It also seemed to help force fluids back into the stomach and therefore provide heartburn relief. Chewing gum — sugarless, of course — for 30 minutes did the trick and can provide relief for up to three hours.
  • Kills bacteria and freshens breath: Chewing stimulates saliva production, and the more saliva you have in your mouth, the less bacteria you will have. Gum that is said to be sweetened with xylitol is said to increase salivation and prevent bacteria from replicating in the mouth. In terms of what flavor to go with, it's best to stick with cinnamon, as it can actually help to decrease bacteria in your mouth — sugar-free cinnamon, naturally.

Keep reading for more pros and find out if chewing gum poses any health risks!

  • Curbs your appetite: A study at Louisiana State University took 115 people who regularly chewed gum and measured their food cravings before and after lunch. The results showed that those who chewed gum three times hourly after lunch, ate fewer high-calorie snacks and reported lower feelings of hunger and cravings for sweeter foods. And who knew that the body burns 11 calories an hour through working the jaw?

Health Risks

  • Aspartame and sugar content: In an effort to help make gum "healthier" by decreasing its sugar content, many gum companies began replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sorbitol, and xylitol. Although aspartame was approved in 1996 by the FDA for use in foods and beverages, there still remains many conflicting findings about the controversial sweetener. People who have a sensitivity to aspartame may experience neurological symptoms like headaches, dizziness, skin reactions, seizures, and depression. Fortunately for these individuals, there are gums like PUR that are sugar-free, aspartame-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan.
Image Source: Thinkstock
Join The Conversation
Kim-Foster-MD Kim-Foster-MD 6 years
And here's a benefit that not a lot of people know about: a number of studies have demonstrated that chewing gum decreases stress, decreases anxiety, and improves mental performance. Surprising, huh? (and great!)
fuzzles fuzzles 6 years
Don't forget about the potential negative far-ting factor. Gum makes many people float the ol' air biscuits!
amber512 amber512 6 years
I chew a piece of gum usually after dinner, to help stop cravings. It has actually helped me. I can't chew gum in between meals otherwise it upsets my stomach, but doesn't seem to affect me if it is after a meal.
Pistil Pistil 6 years
My dentist dissapproves of gum-chewing as well. I don't chew gum regularly, only if I want to freshen my breath when I can't brush.
imLissy imLissy 6 years
I have a major gum addition. I'm OK on the weekends, but it's like i have to chew while I'm working to stay focused and that's not good. I started splitting the pieces of gum into quarters, but I still chew about six whole sticks+ a day.
arcticpuppet arcticpuppet 6 years
i had to stop chewing gum because it was really killing my stomach! plus, i would chew some when i was stressed and once i realized that, i knew i had to stop!
ticamorena ticamorena 6 years
I love gum but like cotedazur and vanonymous point out, the tense jaws are an unpleasant side effect - i have to space my gum chewing bouts otherwise i develop TMJ-like symptoms
Vanonymous Vanonymous 6 years
yes! i agree with cotedazur. if you grind or clench your teeth at all (i do in my sleep), dentists will recommend that you not chew gum b/c it builds those muscles and makes your jaw more tense, making you more inclined to grind and clench.
cotedazur cotedazur 6 years
I have a con to add... my husband used to chew gum ALL the time, and his jaw muscles got so strong that he actually cracked two teeth while eating. His dentist told him to stop chewing gum altogether!
ThinToBeGirl ThinToBeGirl 6 years
yeayy!! :D I love chewing gum! ;D
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