Happy Friday, friends. While I had planned to write a round-up post of fun facts and favorites to go along with the joy of Friday and the beginning of spring, instead I shall attempt to scare you with another health warning: Excessive gum chewing.
Confession: I’m an obsessive gum chewer. Sometimes I put two or three pieces in my mouth to make sure I have enough flavor to last a while. I have one favorite gum, and I always have it with me.
Over the past year, I’ve increased my gum chewing, to maybe three-to-four sessions a day. While it mostly occurs after meals or snacking, sometimes it’s just out of nowhere.
Here’s my jam …
Being a born-and-raised Florida Lady, I know not to smack my gum in social or professional situations, but as someone who spends a lot of time walking around San Francisco, I’m constantly chomping as I’m pounding the pavement out in the open. I usually toss my gum before I arrive at my destination.
That being said, I thought I should do some research to find out if this new-ish habit is bad for me. Turns out, it’s mostly not-so-good, but as usual, the research is inconclusive.
Cons of gum chewing
According to a recent story on ABC News, which asked several doctors their professional opinions, there are quite a few cons:
- Chewing gum can lead to jaw problems, which in turn can lead to headaches, because you overuse certain facial muscles while chewing.
- Chewing gum on an empty stomach can cause digestion problems, because once you start chewing, your stomach begins the digestion process with increased saliva production. If no food enters the tummy from there, it may get upset.
- Chewing gum can cause bloating and discomfort, because you swallow big pockets of air.
- Sugar-free gum contains artificial sweeteners that can not only up upset the stomach, but have also been linked to other negative bodily affects. One of the most popular artificial sweeteners is sorbitol, which works as a laxative.
- Chewing gum with sugar in it can lead to tooth decay.
Pros of gum chewing
However, there are a few studies that proclaim the positives, such as one I referenced on WebMD:
- Chewing gum after a meal can freshen your breath.
- Chewing gum after a meal can help prevent tooth decay.
- Chewing sugar-free gum doesn’t really add to your caloric intake, as there are usually less than five calories per piece.
- Chewing gum can curb your appetite, for at least a little while. Apparently, contestants on The Biggest Loser are known to pop gum in their mouths to curb cravings and avoid snacking between meals. (While this is a potential use, the possibility of upsetting your stomach in the process is also highly possible, see the cons above.)
Here is one surprising fact that goes in the pros section, which I found on the Wall Street Journal:
- Chewing gum can increase your cognitive function. Some people think that chewing gum while you are doing a task that requires you to concentrate — such as writing, golfing or working on a spreadsheet — can be beneficial.
If you aren’t a big gum chewer, then you shouldn’t start now. While you want to make sure your breath is always fresh, brushing after a meal is the best way to do it. If not, pop a mint.
I’m not going to quit chewing gum just yet, but I am going to be sure that all of my gum chewing happens after a meal, and perhaps I’ll try to cut back on those three-piece sessions.
Questions of the day
Are you a big gum chewer? Does this make you reconsider your habit?