Did you know that chewing gum has been around since the Stone Age? Chewing gum originated from chicle gum obtained from the sap of the Sapodilla tree which is native to southern Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America.
The Mayas and Aztecs went through a laborious process to make their chicle gum – they boiled chicle gum, set it into blocks and when it cooled down, cut them into small pieces to chew. In 1866, General Santa Anna, former Mexican president, brought a sample to Thomas Adams in New York. Adams added sugar with the chicle, which gave birth to chewing gum as we know it!
Due to the labour-intensive process of obtaining chicle gum, most modern chewing gums are made of a synthetic equivalent called polyisobutylene, which is a rubbery material also used to manufacture inner tubes. To make the gum chewable, polyisobutylene is mixed with food grade plasticisers and materials.
Different chewing gum versions with different flavourings led to very successful chewing gum companies like Wrigley’s, Polar Ice, Trident, Bubblemint, Eclipse and Mentos.
Here are some benefits of chewing gum that you may or may not be aware of:
Chewing gum after a meal can actually help protect your teeth. Firstly, the gum increases saliva flow which strengthens your tooth enamel, because saliva carries phosphate and calcium.
The second benefit is that the rubbery gum will pick up food debris stuck on your teeth after a meal. Go ahead and chew some gum, preferably sugarless, for 20 minutes after a meal, as you’ll prevent cavities from forming. Your breath will also smell fresh!
A study done by the University of Liverpool found chewing gum can reduce your cravings, which could lead to better eating choices. The study found on average that those who chewed gum ate less than those who didn’t.
Try chewing a stick of gum instead of reaching for that after-meal dessert. This way the calories will come off faster.
Reduces heartburn or acid reflux:
You can follow up with a stick of chewing gum after a heavy or spicy meal, as chewing gum has been found to lower the acid levels in your esophagus, which in turn may help reduce symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux.
Another benefit from chewing a stick of gum is that this action burns approximately 11 calories an hour. This doesn’t sound like much, but multiply that number by several sticks of gum a day, and the figures do add up.
Increases blood flow:
When you chew a stick of gum, it increases circulation, thus blood flow to your brain is increased. Research done by the University of Northumbria in the UK has shown chewing gum could improve short-term memory by 35 per cent. Take caution here, as the same research also found chewing gum for too long can have the adverse effect of decreasing short-term memory!
A medical study conducted in 2011 revealed that chewing gum twice a day for a period of two weeks actually reduced depression, anxiety and fatigue in patients with mental illnesses.
When you feel drowsy at work after that big lunch, chewing a stick of mint flavoured gum could be just the solution to keep you awake.
Studies have shown morning sickness or motion sickness can be relieved by chewing a stick of either mint or ginger flavoured gum.
Downsides of chewing gum:
Dentists always recommend sugar-free chewing gum, as the sugar found in normal chewing gum can contribute to cavities. Bacteria feed on sugar to produce acid that causes tooth decay, so you may get cavities by chewing gum with sugar.
Dentists have also highlighted another point with chewing gum related to people with dental issues, e.g., fillings, crowns, braces, etc. In these cases, chewing gum may loosen the dental work.
The content presented here is for your information only, and it is not to be taken as medical advice. Please consult a qualified dentist if you have any questions or concerns regarding your dental health, especially if you have any underlying medical issues.
14th July 20:50 2020