Chewing gum is a very common thing to do around the entire world. Whether it is chewed to freshen up before a date or meeting or just for fun, gum is everywhere. Chewing gum comes in many flavors, including mint, fruit, and menthol. It is made up of resin, which is what we chew, wax, which helps soften the gum, and elastomer, which makes the gum more flexible and allows us to stretch it and blow bubbles. Chewing gum has many benefits on the human body. According to CNN, it can help precent tooth decay, increase academic performance, help humans consume less food daily and lose weight, reduce acid reflux, and increase blood flow to brain.
A study done at the Baylor College of Medicine studied the relationship between chewing gum and academic performance. A large group of 8th grade math students in Houston were split up into two groups. One group did not chew gum, and the other chewed gum while doing math related homework and taking tests. The results showed that the group who chewed gum had a 3% higher increase in their test scores and had higher final grades than the non-chewers. Another study done by researchers at St. Lawrence University divided a group of undergraduates into 3 groups. One group chewed gum before and during a test, one chewed gum for 5 minutes before testing, and the third group did not chew anything. The results found that chewing gum a little before taking the test did have an impact on test performance, but only for a short time period, and that chewing gum the whole time did not because brain energy that could have been put to test taking was put to the task of chewing gum. It was found that the test performance was high between 15 and 20 minutes after chewing the gum, but after that it went back to normal. Although these results can help prove that chewing gum does help test performance, it also can prove that it improves memory. So, maybe it is the memory that helps with test performance and not the gum itself. The increase in memory and academic performance from gum may be caused by the “warming up” of your brain, meaning that chewing gum increases mastication-induced arousal, which turns on the brain and increases blood flow to the brain, making the brain work more efficiently.
Besides improving memory and possibly test performance, chewing gum also benefits the health of the human body. According to the American Dental Association, “chewing gum for 20 minutes after meals can help prevent tooth decay.”The saliva that is produced when chewing gum an protect teeth by washing away bacteria that can cause tooth decay. Chewing gum also reduced acid reflux because saliva produced creates a flow that can produce an antacid-like result in the stomach.
There also have been multiple studies that show chewing gum improves weight loss. Mayo Clinic did a study and it proved that calories were burned through the working of the jaw while chewing gum. The University of Rhode Island did an experiment where they found that chewing gum results in people consuming less calories at meals. The people that chewed gum before eating ate 68 fewer calories than those that did not chew gum, and they burned approximately 5% more calories than the non-chewers. Louisiana State University did a study that showed participants that chewed gum had a decrease in the amount of calories consumed.
However, there has been research done that disproves the hypothesis that chewing gum reduces food intake. The University of Buffalo published a study that proved that hypothesis false. They conducted two experiments that involved chewing gum before meals. In Experiment 1, some participants chewed mint gum. Those that chewed mint gum were less likely to eat fruit, and had a higher craving for junk food. One explanation with this is that mint and fruit do not really go well together, so people avoid that awful aftertaste and do not choose fruit. This shows that chewing gum does not really have an influence on food. In Experiment 2, participants consumed more food energy in meals but ate fewer meals. The experiments can show the lack of affect that gum has on dieting and food choice.
Even though there can be benefits to chewing gum, an article in the magazine Prevention provides side effects of chewing gum. One is triggering TMJ, which is temporomandibular joint disorder, which occurs when any muscle or joint is overused. Chewing gum too often can lead to these jaw muscle pains. Developing GI problems is also a side effect of chewing gum. Chewing gum can result in air being swallowed which produces abdominal pain and bloating. If one has fillings and chews gum, they run the risk of releasing the mercury that is found in fillings into the mouth. Mercury can cause brain issues, mental disorders, and other illnesses.
Should we chew gum? Well, it is hard to decide since there are both positive and negatives, but if you keep the chewing to a mild rate and are cautious and aware of the negatives, chewing gum is okay.