Chewing gum seems like such a harmless habit. Consider the following before you reach for that next stick…
You’ll eat less fruit and more junk food: Chewing gum before a meal is often recommended as a way to reduce hunger and eat less. But a recent study debunks this belief. The study showed gum chewing not only had no effect on calories consumed, but chewing mint-flavored gum reduced the intake of healthy fruit and increased the likelihood of eating junk food such as potato chips and candy. Researchers believe the minty flavor of the gum gave fruits and vegetables a bitter flavor. Try sipping a cup of green tea before a meal to curb your appetite instead, which can even help you lose weight.
Jaw pain: Chewing gum can lead to jaw pain by straining the chewing muscles and joints that connect your lower jaw to your skull. Many people end up with contracted muscles of the jaw, head, and neck, which can lead to headaches, earaches, or toothaches over time. Eat an apple instead, which satisfies the urge to chew and reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease at the same time.
Stomach problems: Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder characterized by abdominal pain, cramping, and changes in bowel habits. Chewing gum can contribute to this syndrome, as excess air swallowed can contribute to abdominal pain and bloating. In addition to swallowing air, artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol and mannitol can cause diarrhea in otherwise healthy people.
Tooth decay: In an effort to avoid the laxative effect of artificially sweetened gum, switching to sugar-sweetened gum may sound logical, but it is fraught with its own issues. Sugar-sweetened gum bathes the teeth in sugar and is a source of tooth decay.
Gross ingredients: Lanolin, an ingredient found in skincare products, keeps chewing gum soft. It doesn’t sound too bad until you find out it’s a yellow waxy substance secreted by the sebaceous glands of sheep. In the amounts utilized in chewing gum, it hardly poses a threat to one’s health, although the thought of digesting it may be a bit unsavory.
Absorbing mercury: Chewing gum can release the mercury in amalgam dental fillings into your body. Fortunately, the small amount released through dental fillings isn’t likely to harm you, as it typically passes easily through your intestinal tract.