Hello. My name is Robin and I’m a recovered gum addict. I was the girl that had at least two packages of different flavors of gum in her purse at all times. I was the girl that popped a piece in anytime I was going to meet anyone new, go out with friends, after finishing a meal, or “just because.” I loved gum.
But gum didn’t love me.
I actually quit my chewing gum habit long before my real food conversion. I was a graduate student who frequently had subtle stomach aches… nothing that would keep me from my day, but definitely uncomfortable and really annoying. Like I tend to do, I started researching possible causes. And, as you can imagine, through that vast vacuum of information we call “the internet” I found more than a gazillion possible reasons for my tummy troubles: Too little fiber, too much fiber, food allergies, sugar, carbs, my sleeping habits, too much water, too little water, etc. etc. etc.
Um, just as a reminder: Don’t believe everything you read online.
I started doing some self experimentation, trying to pinpoint what my particular issue was. And since I’m
lazy efficient I decided to try the easiest and most simple thing first:
I quit chewing gum.
Surely gum chewing wasn’t bad, and surely gum chewing wasn’t my problem, right? I mean, every commercial told me that 4 out of 5 dentists recommend the stuff. But my research made me think twice about my gum lovin’ ways.
And for the record, I didn’t have access to or knowledge of some of the resources I do now, so the reasons behind the “chewing gum is bad” idea was from two simple ideas:
1. Chewing gum can produce a excessive “air pockets” that can upset your stomach.
2. Many of the artificial sweeteners in sugar free gum can upset your stomach.
So I stopped chewing gum.
And, lo and behold, my little stomach problems disappeared. No more discomfort. No more annoyed “why do I always feel this way!” episodes.
Of course, fast forward a decade or so (Man, I’m getting old…) and I have plenty of other reasons why I don’t chew gum.
7 Reasons Chewing Gum is Bad
1. Jaw Problems
For some people chewing gum is bad because it can cause mouth disorders. This is especially true for people with pre-existing jaw conditions like TMJ. But even if you don’t have a serious problem, excessive gum chewing can aggravates the cartilage and surrounding joints in the mouth through extra wear and tear.
2. Artificial Sweeteners
Most gum these days love to market that they are “sugar free,” but artificial sweeteners are far from my “okay to eat” real food list. Aspartame is just on example that has been linked to brain tumors, birth defects, and cancer. Read why I don’t trust the stuff here. But even the “safer” sweeteners are suspicious for this “back to basics, just eat what we recognize as real food” gal.
3. Chewing gum can cause headaches
According to Dr. Ben Kim, there are eight different facial muscles involved in chewing.
Unnecessary chewing can create chronic tightness in two of these muscles, located close to your temples. This can put pressure on the nerves that supply this area of your head, which can lead to chronic, intermittent headaches. (Source)
4. Other fake ingredients
Just because you don’t generally ingest your gum doesn’t mean it doesn’t go in your body:
The ingredients in gum travel into the bloodstream faster and in higher concentrations than food ingredients, because they absorb straight through the walls of the mouth, and these ingredients do not undergo the normal filtration process of digestion. – C. Thomas Corriher (source)
Yikes! That’s pretty scary when you think about some of the common ingredients listed on a pack of chewing gum:
- Gum Base
- Artificial and ‘Natural’ Flavoring
- Acesulfame Potassiu
- Calcium Casein Peptone-calcium Phosphate
- Candelilla Wax
- Sodium Stearate
- Titanium Dioxide
Learn more about these ingredients here.
5. Chewing gum only masks bad breath. It doesn’t get rid of it.
I remember how “minty clean” my mouth would feel after chewing a piece of gum (for a minute or two, at least), but gum doesn’t get rid of bad breath. Bad breath is symptom of digestive problems or excessive tooth decay. In fact, once I changed my diet and improved my health through real food I no longer had bad breath. Real food for the win!
6. Chewing gum could hinder your metabolism.
If you’ve been around the Thank Your Body site for a while you know how important metabolic health is. But did you know that chewing gum, which stimulates saliva production for an unnaturally long time, can take away from other important metabolic functions? Crazy, right?
7. Oh yeah, and the tummy aches.
And that brings me back to the reason I stopped in the first place. Chewing gum brings in an excess of swallowed air which can put pressure on the intestine and cause cramping and bloating. And for those who suffer from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) this can be really bad.
But, but, but…
But what will I use to freshen my breath on that important first date, job interview, etc? How can I possibly give up my gum!?
Don’t fear, in the a few days I will give you some natural ways to freshen your breath, improve your dental health, and feel okay about saying goodbye to gum for good. Stay tunes.