Watch out for chewing gum!


Most of us reach for it every day, sometimes even several times a day. It accompanies us between meals to refresh the mouth, in the end it is presented as a healthy alternative to toothpaste. Chewing gum, because we talk about it, unfortunately has nothing to do with health. 

The composition of chewing gum depends on the specific manufacturer, but in most of them we will find the same basic ingredients and bases characteristic of the gum composition. Find out what you can find in a typical chewing gum composition and why you should stop, or at least limit its consumption. 


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A brief history of chewing gum 

The custom of chewing for cleansing teeth and refreshing the breath was already known in the ancient times of the Maya and Aztecs. They chewed milky juice, so-called chicle, originating from the proper sapwood tree (the proper quince). The ancient Greeks relished the chewing of a soft and aromatic resin from the bark of the gum tree Pistacia lentiscus, which was called the mastic or tears of Chios, because it was the gum tree that grew on this Greek island. This gum at that time had fungicidal and bactericidal properties. The Indians were also enthusiasts of chewing mastic. It is assumed that the Chicle was brought to the United States by the former president of the country, exiled from Mexico, and General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who lived in the State of New York. In this way, in the eighteenth century, it came to the hands of Thomas Adams, an American photographer, today regarded as the father of modern chewing gum. Adams combined the chicle with sugar to form the rubber precursor we now know. The patent application for gum was officially submitted in December 1869 by dentist William F. Semple. 

Chewing gum and digestion 

When we put food into the mouth and start chewing, the body reacts immediately to prepare for the digestion process. Then, in the stomach, the secretion of juice increases, which facilitates digestion. During gum chewing signals are sent that the body will be introduced food, which stimulates the production of enzymes and acids used in the digestive process, which can lead to overproduction of gastric acid. Regular chewing may lead to hyperacidity, which in turn is associated with digestive disorders. 

Chewing can cause muscle growth 

Every day chewing gum does not affect the jaw muscles. When we are constantly moving our jaws, we cause the masseter muscles to overgrow. As a result, the jaw becomes very square, which also changes facial features. Regular gum chewing can also affect bruxism, or involuntary teeth clenching. This makes the teeth wear off faster and crumble, and is accompanied by a chronic headache. 

Flatulence of chewing gum? Yes! 

Are you suffering from regular bloating and splashing in your stomach? Perhaps the problem lies in chewing gum. Through it, we swallow more air that goes into the intestines. This leads to the formation of gases and unpleasant bloating. When we suffer from problems with the digestive tract, we often take pills and look for reasons such as in food allergies, and we do not think that they are caused by chewing gum. 

Gum protects against decay or … leads to it? 

The rubber, according to the assurances of the producers, is to protect teeth against decay thanks to neutralization of acids, by increasing the secretion of saliva. Saliva essentially alkalises and this is the truth. Chewing gum causes, that actually we have more saliva, and this one protects us against caries, but it does not in any way counterbalance the impact of rubber components on the formation of caries. 

Nowadays, rarely, gum contains sugar, which without a shadow of doubt is a factor that significantly influences the formation of caries, so sugar-free gums dominate, but unfortunately most of the additives imitating sweetness are also not the healthiest ingredients. If you chew gum without sugar, it will still contain acidic food additives (not only sweeteners), which contribute to enamel erosion and, consequently, caries. It is worth remembering that the situation does not save often the xylitol gums. In sugar-free gums, you’ll most often find artificial sweeteners, among others controversial aspartame (E951), acesulfame K (E950), as well as natural sweeteners – the already mentioned xylitol (E967), sorbitol (E420), mannitol (E421) and isomalt (E953) – the last four relatively harmless polyols – they are not toxic, although in larger amounts, may cause diarrhea as they bind water in the gut and sucralose (E955), which can affect blood sugar and insulin metabolism. 

Other substances in chewing gum 

Most chewing gums contain soy lecithin. It is quite a controversial component due to the fact that lecithin is usually obtained from genetically modified soybeans. 

In rubber, we find other compounds – min. glycerol (E422), which is responsible for maintaining the humidity. Unfortunately, the side effect of glycerol consumption may include raising the level of sugar, impaired fertility and work of the endocrine system, dementia. In gums, there is also a substance hiding under the abbreviation E320. It is butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA). Its combination with vitamin C is particularly dangerous, because then free radicals are released, that is, atoms that damage everything, including collagen fibers, which accelerates the aging process. In the gum you can also find butylhydroxytoluene (E321), or BHT, which is a very big threat to the kidneys and liver. Consumed regularly, it can promote the development of urticaria and redness on the body and even lead to liver cancer. In most gums, we find a mysterious gum base – it consists of synthetic and natural substances (eg lanolin). It is known that different polymers (polyisobutylene (PIB) and polyvinyl acetate, PVA and PVAC can be included – the former also serves for the production of adhesives, linings and gaskets, while polyvinyl acetate is a vinyl polymer used, among others, as a component of emulsion paints , varnishes, adhesives and leveling compounds), which are intended to provide the right consistency of chewing gum. Many chewing gums also contain substances that cause allergic reactions in some people, such as gum arabic or carnauba wax. The essentially harmless, but still in excess, which may cause health problems of the chewing gum ingredients include the glazing substance, which is calcium carbonate (E170) – it will not be a source of calcium – it is ordinary chalk. Calcium carbonate consumed in larger amounts can cause constipation and abdominal pain. In chewing gums we also find a dye – titanium dioxide (E171), a natural white mineral used as a dye in food products, often added to confectionery and sweets, also used in tooth whitening toothpaste, generally regarded as harmless to human health, although some sources indicate that it can damage cell DNA and contribute to the occurrence of autoimmune diseases. Finally, the aromas – responsible for the taste qualities that are synthetic and certainly will not give us any nutritional value. 

We already know that chewing gum is not the best way to clean the mouth. What instead of her? If there is such a possibility, it is worth immediately cleaning the teeth with floss after a meal to remove residual food. A better solution is also a mouthwash that will refresh the mouth. If you need to chew something, opt for natural and healthy chewing gum substitutes – chewing fresh mint, parsley, basil, ginger, fennel seeds or cloves. Remember, however, to take breaks, otherwise you will overgrow the masseter muscles. 


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Posted on: May 29, 2019

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