People chew different flavors of gum for different reasons. Some may be to combat food cravings, deal with stress, or replace desserts. Most gums are described as sugar-free or with some useful ingredients, but this doesn’t mean chewing them is healthy.
Let’s look at the benefits of chewing gum before weighing in on the disadvantages of
Benefits of Chewing Gum
Improves Dental Health
According to studies, chewing sugar-free gum may lessen the risks of dental decay. The proof is still vague for other dental health benefits (and the lengthy exposure to acidic ingredients in some gums may increase the risks. Also, chewing gum stimulates extra saliva production and helps the mouth clean itself, thereby keeping breadth fresh.
Chewing gum helps reduce anxiety according to results from clinical studies. In a small study of 50 young adult volunteers, those who chewed gum twice a day for two weeks rated their anxiety as considerably lower than those who did not. Unfortunately, this benefit don’t last, because there’s no important difference in anxiety after 4 weeks.
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Upsurges Serotonin in the Brain
Chewing gum reduces stress. It can increase serotonin, the “happy” neurotransmitter. This increase in the level of serotonin in turn pacifies the nerves that conduct pain.
Triggers the Vagus Nerve
Chewing gum can fuel the vagus nerve. Poor stimulation of the vagus nerve is one of the major causes of modern diseases. The vagus nerve controls gut movement and secretion of digestive juice. It is one of the ways that gut health and gut bacteria affects the brain.
Disadvantages of chewing gum
Contains potentially toxic ingredients
Gum contains many suspicious ingredients. Here are a few common ones:
- It contains artificial antioxidantssuch as butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT). BHT is linked to asthma and cancer risks.
- Contains artificial sweeteners like aspartame
- It contains gum base that could be natural plant resins, beeswax, or petroleum-based chemicals.
- Gum contains fillerssuch as talc and cornstarch
- Artificial food colorsincluding FD&C color and caramel color
Swallowing Excess Air
Gum chewing can lead to swallowing more air than usual, which can cause abdominal pain, gas, and bloating.
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Healthy sleep quality is vital for health. It is one of the ways our bodies differentiate day from nocturnal eating. Chewing gum at night may affect sleep because it increases alertness, keeping you awake.
Artificial sweeteners like aspartame and acesulfame K are needed to make gum remain sweet for a few minutes. Even an artificial sweet taste can trigger the body to release insulin, which can lower blood sugar and deteriorate insulin resistance.
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Causes Jaw Problems
Our jaws aren’t made to chew continuously for hours like a goat. Excessive chewing can lead to tight jaw muscles, and jaw muscle imbalances if one has the habit of chewing only on one side. This can lead to tension headaches.
Not Effective for Weight Loss
In a randomized control trial, involving overweight adults, it was found that chewing gum had no significant effect on weight loss. Chewing gum somewhat reduced self-reported hunger, but overall had no effect on calorie consumption.
What to do instead of chewing gum
Chewing gum has some health benefits, but ultimately everything about chewing gum is artificial. Typical chewing gums are made of several harmful artificial ingredients. So instead of chewing gum, try these:
- Eating slowly: Eating slowly and chewing foods thoroughly can provide the useful effects of vagus nerve activation without the negative effects of chewing gum.
- Deep breathing:Meditation and deep breathing can help increase blood flow to the brain and consequently improve cognitive performance.
- Bright light exposure:Exercise can improve serotonin levels, which improves mood and eases anxiety.
- Improved vagus nerve activity: Instead of chewing gum, you can sing, pray, and do other forms of calm meditation.
- Improved oral health: This must not be achieved by chewing gum. You can use oil pulling, herbal mouthwash, and homemade toothpaste.
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