Chewing gum is pretty normal – but are there any negative side effects? How about any benefits? Firstly, let’s consider some potentially harmful ingredients that can be found in many types of chewing gum, then I’ll explain what the benefits are.
Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
BHT is a slightly controversial ingredient contained in some types of chewing gum. It acts as a preservative and is added to many processed foods. Some animal studies have shown that it could be linked to cancer, however other studies didn’t find the same results.
Not enough human studies have been carried out to really know the effects it could have on humans, but low doses are deemed to be safe by both the FDA and the EFSA.
Titanium dioxide is added to some chewing gum to whiten it and make it smooth. Some studies on animals have linked it to organ damage, but again, results are mixed and there is no evidence to show that it has the same effect on humans.
It is generally considered to be safe in low doses.
Aspartame is a popular sweetener, but it’s a little controversial. It has been linked with various health problems, ranging from headaches to cancer. However, as there is actually no evidence to back up these claims, consuming small amounts isn’t considered to be harmful.
Memory and Stress
Studies have found that chewing gum can enhance brain function, including boosting memory, as well as improving alertness and decision making, and it has also been linked with reducing stress
Chewing gum may help with weight loss, because it’s sweet but contains very few calories, and involves chewing, which may help to reduce appetite.
There is also some evidence that chewing gum can increase your metabolic rate.
Teeth and Breath
Chewing sugar-free gum could help protect your teeth from cavities. Chewing gums that contain the sweetener xylitol have been shown to be more effective at preventing tooth decay, as well as improving bad breath. Some studies have shown that xylitol may actually reduce the amount of bad bacteria in the mouth by up to 75%.
Chewing gum also encourages saliva flow, helping to remove food debris and sugar, which also lowers the amount of bacteria in the mouth.