Is chewing gum bad for you?

When I was in middle school, chewing gum was not allowed because the teachers and staff believed it was a distraction to our learning environment.  It became an issue when students would stick their dried up, flavorless gum underneath the desks, so that privilege was taken away from the entire student body.  The only time of the year gum was allowed at school was the week of the state-wide testing.  I was curious as to why this “distraction” be permitted during a time when we’re supposed to have complete focus and concentration.  Apparently, there was a correlation between gum and concentration that I was unaware of at the time.

A group of psychologists from Saint Lawrence University wanted to learn more behind the correlation between gum and concentration.  In order to learn more, the scientists performed a randomized control trial, by giving 80 students chewing gum and another 80 students nothing.  Then, the 160 students went through a series of memorization and logic tests, in order to see if there was a difference between the results of the two groups.  In the end, the psychologists noticed a large gap between the two groups, in that the chewing gum group did substantially better than the non-chewing gum group.  This was tested for multiple trials and the results were consistent.  

When I was little, bubblegum used to be my favorite snack- yes I would eat it.  This quickly ended when my sister warned me that it would take years for the gum to pass and it would mess up my body.  This has been an ongoing myth for quite some time, so what is the answer?  How long does it take chewing gum to pass through a human’s system?  According to the BBC, if someone habitually swallows gum, it can pose a threat to one’s health by building up in their system and creating potential for a blockage.  Although, it should not be a worry if it is only an infrequent occurrence.

So how may this apply to your life?  Well, if you’re very nervous or have to cram for an important test or exam, chewing gum may help you pinpoint some of that anxious energy towards the work that needs to get done.  It may not work for everyone since every person is different and has different habits and study techniques, but it is worth a try.  There will be no harm in trying to implement this into your current study routine, as long as you don’t consume too much of it!

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6 thoughts on “Is chewing gum bad for you?

  1. Julia R Martini

    I chew gum all the time. I think it makes me resist food but in reality I think it makes me more hungry. My one friend needs to chew a certain flavor of gum while she’s studying and then chew that same flavor of gum when she’s taking the test. She says it helps her remember the information better but I can’t see how that works. Maybe I’ll try it next test.

  2. Ashley Elizabeth Day

    My school was the same way when I was growing up. The instant that a teacher saw you chewing gum you had to throw it out right away. We all tried our best to sneak chewing gum but it only took one chew that you forgot to cover up for the teacher to call you out in the middle of class. It was more of distraction when they would hold up class and insist that you threw it away immediately. That was a bigger distraction to the class as a whole than to me as an individual chewing gum. But why need to spit it out? Chewing gum has lots of benefits to ones health, one including increased memory which relates back to why the group of gum chewers did better than the non-chewers did. Explore this article and find out why chewing gum is better than just nice smelling breath!

    1. Lydia A Chelli Post author

      That article about the impact of gum on the memory is very interesting! I did not know that it could benefit the brain in that way. I wonder if the flavor depends on how it affects memory. It is very cool that chewing gum can impact a person in so many ways. Thanks for sharing the article!

  3. Devon Buono

    Chewing gum was banned in all my schools up until high school as well. I have noticed myself that I usually need to be chewing something or eating in order to concentrate. I never realized it until reading, along with your blog. Apparently, this study saw that the concentration of those chewing gum was only noticeably different towards the end of the experiment. Maybe it helps in the long term?

  4. Michael Mandarino

    This is a really fascinating topic to write a blog post about. You mention how chewing gum can reduce anxiety and help you focus and speaking from my own experience, this is true. There have been times when I felt nervous for a big test or a big event in my life that I wish I had chewed gum for. For me, chewing gum allows me to exert some energy into something when I’m feeling nervous. Thanks for sharing these findings.

  5. Delaney Ann Flynn

    I had also always wondered why the strict regulation with gum in middle school, especially with the mental benefits you listed. I researched this idea and I discovered the idea that if you study while sucking on a mint then suck on the mint again during a test- your memory is sharper. Here is an article that explains the affect of peppermint on the brain.

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