As a mom, I didn’t let my kids chew gum, probably because I am not a gum chewer, so we never had gum in the house. But I know a lot of people who smack away. So I wondered, does chewing gum have benefits or does it do some harm?
Don’t panic! Gum chewers don’t end up in the ER! But those of you who are a little orally fixated, might want to know your gum facts! And who knows, this could be a Jeopardy category one day!
Dr. Bell, a GI in Virginia Beach, VA. weighs in on the pros and cons of gum chewing in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. According to him, we need to get our gum facts right!
Some people think gum chewing causes an upset stomach. Dr. Bell explains that when you first put that gum in your mouth, you signal the brain to begin the digestive process. Saliva is released thinking food is coming. Since no food shows up, you might think, uh oh, the stomach is tricked and acid is released. I feel boated or gassy. That feeling comes from the air intake that comes with chewing, not the acid. So gum is not upsetting the stomach. I guess that gives credence to the old saying, chew with your mouth closed!
Gum doesn’t act like a weight loss agent either. Remember it kick starts the digestion system which might make you feel even more hungry. So despite the claims, chew because you like it, not to lose weight! And if you want to freshen your breath, gum is true to that promise!
If you listen to your dentist and chew sugar free gum, you aren’t completely in the clear. The main ingredient in sugar free gum, Sorbitol, taken in large amounts, can give you GI problems. Some people can get excessive gas from that ingredient taken in high doses, so moderate or stop if you are sensitive to Sorbitol.
Dr. Bell also notes that there are studies linking adolescent gum chewing to migraine headaches and that people with mild jaw problems could irritate those problems even more.
So is there any good news here? Yes, other studies say chewing gum during a task can help you think better. Maybe that is why so many teens smack away during their exams!
I probably just took the fun out of gum, but hey, if you need to chew, it’s way better than tobacco!