What is chewing gum?

What is chewing gum

Chewing gum isn’t just for blowing bubbles (though that’s fun too!). This tasty treat is a soft, flavored mixture made for chewing, not swallowing. The base of the gum provides a satisfying chew, while sweeteners and flavorings keep your taste buds happy. Sometimes, softeners or bulking agents are added for texture.

Benefits of Chewing Gum

  1. Boost Memory
    Boost Memory

    A study indicates that regular chewing sugar-free gum boosts brain blood flow to the hippocampus and oxygen levels, thereby enhancing brain cell activity and memory skills, according to a recent research study.
  2. Reduces Stress
    Reduces Stress
    Another research study has found that chewing gum can be a great stress-buster, as it boosts the oxygen flow to the brain and decreases the production of the stress hormone known as cortisol, in the blood, thus reducing stress.
  3. Relieves Anxiety
    Just like how chewing gum can reduce stress, the same action of chewing gum boosting oxygen flow to the brain can also reduce anxiety. So, chewing gum before an interview or an important meeting can help calm your nerves.
  4. Aids Weight Loss
    Aids Weight Loss

    Chewing gum whenever you get hunger pangs can kill the untimely hunger pangs and prevent you from binge eating, thus helping you stick to your healthy diet and lose weight! Ensure that the gum you choose is sugar-free and low in calories.
  5. Treats Nausea
    Treats Nausea
    If you are someone who is prone to travel sickness or if you are suffering from nausea induced by indigestion, chewing minty gum can help reduce this sensation, as chewing on gum can produce more saliva, which in turn reduces the acid produced in the stomach, thus treating nausea.
  6. Treats Constipation
    Chewing gum can be used to treat constipation temporarily because the extra saliva produced can lubricate your intestines and make bowel movement smoother. However, constipation is a condition that requires medical attention.
  7. Reduces Acidity
    Again, due to the extra saliva that is produced while chewing gum, which can reduce the digestive acids produced in the stomach, it can also treat acidity temporarily and acidity must be checked by a professional.
  8. Makes You More Alert
    Each time you are feeling tired and lethargic at work, chewing gum could help make you more alert and energetic because it increases the blood flow and oxygen to your brain.
  9. Whitens teeth
    Whitens teeth
    There are varieties of chewing gum that whiten and brighten the surface of your teeth. Also, chomping on sugarless chewing gum 20 minutes after meals can prevent tooth decay, cavities, and gingivitis.

Oral Health Hero (Sugar-Free Only):
Make sure to choose sugar-free gum for this benefit. Chewing sugar-free gum after meals can help neutralize plaque acids and increase saliva flow. This can potentially reduce tooth decay by creating a less hospitable environment for cavity-causing bacteria.

History of Gum

Chewing gum isn’t a new invention! It turns out humans have been enjoying this chewy pleasure for centuries, with roots stretching far back in history. Here’s a glimpse into the fascinating past of gum:

Ancient Origins:
The earliest evidence of gum-like substances dates back thousands of years. In northern Europe, people chewed birch bark tar, possibly for medicinal purposes like easing toothaches.

The Rise of Modern Gum:
Fast forward to the 19th century, chicle found its way to the United States. While initially intended as a rubber substitute, Thomas Adams, an entrepreneur, discovered its potential as a chewing gum base. In 1871, he introduced “Adams New York Chewing Gum,” marking the birth of modern chewing gum.

Chewing Gum Today:
Chewing gum, a popular global treat offers a variety of flavors and textures, including sugar-free and bubble gum, and can also help freshen breath, manage cravings, and boost alertness.

What is chewing gum made out of

Chewing gum is a combination of several ingredients that give it its characteristic chew, flavor, and texture. Here’s a breakdown of the key components:

Ingredients in Chewing Gum

Gum Base:
This is the foundation of the gum, providing a chewy texture. Traditionally, chicle, a natural latex from the sapodilla tree, was used. Today, most gum bases are synthetic, made from food-grade elastomers (think stretchy materials) or waxes.

Sugars like sucrose (table sugar) or high-fructose corn syrup were common in the past. However, sugar-free gums are increasingly popular and use sugar alcohols like sorbitol or xylitol. These offer sweetness without contributing to tooth decay.

These keep the gum from becoming hard and brittle, ensuring a pleasant chewing experience. They allow the gum to maintain its flexibility and elasticity.

Artificial or natural flavors give chewing gum its distinct taste. Mint is a classic, but there’s a huge variety available, from fruity to spicy.

Food coloring adds visual appeal to chewing gum. It can make the gum more visually interesting and can sometimes tie in with the flavor.

Often a hard or powdered polyol coating provides a smooth texture and additional flavor. This coating can also help to slow down the release of flavor from the gum.

Are the ingredients in chewing gum safe?

Absolutely, the ingredients in chewing gum are safe for consumption in the intended way – chewing and discarding. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Regulation: Chewing gum ingredients are regulated by food safety authorities like the FDA (US) to ensure they meet safety standards.
  • Individual Ingredients: Most gum base components, sweeteners (especially sugar alcohols in sugar-free gum), softeners, flavors, and colors are approved for use in food products.
  • Sugar vs. Sugar-Free: While sugar itself isn’t harmful, excessive sugar intake can contribute to dental problems. Sugar-free gum avoids this concern.

How to Choose Chewing Gum

Chewing gum selection depends on personal preference and needs. Choose sugar-free, mint or fruity flavors, and check for gum with xylitol for potential dental benefits.

Selecting the perfect pack of chewing gum depends on your priorities! Here’s a guide to picking the gum that best suits your needs:

For Freshening Breath:

  • Sugar-Free Option: Look for gum sweetened with xylitol. This sugar alcohol not only avoids sugar spikes but also neutralizes plaque acids, potentially reducing tooth decay and freshening breath.
  • Flavor Power: Mint or spearmint flavors are classic breath fresheners, leaving a cool, minty sensation.

For Oral Health Benefits:

  • Sugar-Free is Key: Opt for sugar-free gum sweetened with xylitol. Chewing it for 20 minutes after eating can stimulate saliva flow, which helps wash away food particles and neutralize plaque acids.

For Long-Lasting Flavor:

  • Sugar Alcohols: Sugar alcohols like sorbitol may provide a longer-lasting flavor experience compared to xylitol. However, be mindful of potential digestive discomfort for some people with high intake.
  • Coating: Look for gum with a hard candy or polyol coating. This can slow down the flavor release, extending your chewing enjoyment.

Are there any side effects of chewing gum?

While chewing gum generally is safe, there can be some potential side effects to be aware of, especially with excessive chewing. Here’s a breakdown:

Jaw Problems: Chewing gum too frequently can strain your jaw muscles, leading to pain, discomfort, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems.
Headaches: Some research suggests a link between excessive gum chewing and headaches, particularly in migraine sufferers.
Digestive Issues: Sugar alcohols used in sugar-free gum can cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea in some people, especially with high intake.
Tooth Damage (Sugar-Sweetened Gum): Frequent chewing of gum with sugar can contribute to tooth decay due to the constant presence of sugar in your mouth.

Bottom Line

Chewing gum offers a surprising range of benefits, especially if you stick with sugar-free varieties:

  • Freshens breathe with a boost of saliva production.
  • Reduce tooth decay by neutralizing plaque acids (sugar-free only).
  • Improve alertness and focus due to increased blood flow to the brain.
  • It can potentially help manage cravings by providing a sense of satisfaction.

So next time you’re looking for a breath freshener, a focus booster, or just a tasty chew, consider a stick of sugar-free gum! Just remember to chew in moderation and avoid swallowing it.

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Ashley completed her degree with nutrition as her major. She loves sharing her knowledge with others and playing with words. After struggling for almost a year to find a job that could make her feel lively, she ended up as a freelance writer. Ashley writes health-related blogs and articles. She makes sure that her works always stand unique and are useful for everyone. Ashley is also a YouTuber who shares health-related videos. She knows the value of the right information and how it can be beneficial to others. Therefore, her only motto is to provide accurate information. If Ashley sounds like that neighbor who you can ask for health tips, take a look at her works.