Important Health Considerations to Stop Chewing Gum
1. The ingredients are scary.
You may think you are doing a good thing, choosing sugar-free gum over sugar laden varieties, but I must break the bad news. It is no better. In fact, maybe worse. Here is why:
There is nothing sweet about artificial sweeteners and chewing gum is loaded with them. A common ingredient in sugar-free gum is aspartame. It is metabolized inside your body and may cause serious neurological as well as other harmful effects. It is FDA approved but many studies show it has been linked to birth defects, cancers, brain tumors, and weight gain as well. Why take the risk?
Sucralose or Splenda, another common artificial sweetener used in chewing gum and FDA approved, (but based on only two human studies) has shown to reduce the absorption of other drugs, cause stomach distress, release toxins when used in baking as well as many other harmful effects.
Another common preservatives listed in gum labels is BHA (butylated hydroxytoluene), a preservative that has a whole host of bad associations such as cancer and many other diseases.
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2. There is no entrance fee.
The fact that chewing gum is not swallowed does not give it a pass as to the ingredients being absorbed as they enter through the walls of your mouth. Some even claim it could be worse as the ingredients in gum enter your body quickly bypassing the digestive system that might filter some of these ingredients away.
3. Fake colors are not true.
The artificial colors in many gums, especially those for children, may lead to hyperactivity or magnify symptoms of attention deficit disorder. There is also some studies that indicate that certain food dyes may lead to cancer as well.
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4. Your digestion is adversely affected.
Chewing gum causes you to swallow excess air, which can contribute to pain and bloating and exacerbate IBS symptoms. Further, those artificial sweeteners, like sorbitol can lead to several GI problems like cramping, gas and even diarrhea, too.
5. Gum can go to your head.
Recent studies have linked the chewing of any type of gum with migraine or tension headaches in adolescents.
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6. Excess smacking and chewing hurts the jaw.
Many complain that gum causes their jaw to click which could lead to disorders that cause tightness of the jaw muscles.
Three Alternatives to Chewing Gum
One of the biggest reasons people chew gum is for its breath freshening properties. Besides brushing your teeth, here are a few other ways to freshen your breath rather than reaching for a toxic stick of gum:
1. Nibble on an herb.
Parsley and mint as well as other garnishes are great natural breath fresheners and probably more effective in achieving the task over gum anyway. Besides, they both contain a plethora of nutrients!
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2. Sip away.
I wrote about the many reasons and benefits of drinking lemon water, but one big benefit of keeping your body as well as your mouth hydrated is that it chases away any bad breath you may acquire.
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3. Pocket a few seeds.
Keep some fennel seeds in your pocket and chew on a few after a meal as an alternative to chewing gum to keep the breath nice. It has the additional benefit of containing antibacterial properties.
So, what do you think of chewing gum? Is it something you do often? Or do you have other alternatives?
Note: This post appeared previously on THM but has been updated with latest links.