Chewing gum is a habit that can cause a debate as to whether it is beneficial or detrimental to health in several aspects. This habit has been around since the Greeks during the ancient times used mastic tree barks as their natural breath sweetener. These days though, the sticky stuff has many purposes, including to ward off hunger, provide a diversion, and to get nicotine. But is chewing gum really bad for your health or are there positive effects as well?
Advantages of Chewing Gum
According to a research performed in 2013 in Japan, chewing gum can boost mental alertness up to 10%. Chomping away can improve how you think, so that you can make decisions better. The study revealed that as many as eight brain areas are activated, thanks to chewing gum. The theory behind this is that chewing can increase arousal, causing temporary blood flow improvements to the brain.
Aside from being more alert, chewing gum can improve your memory. Based on research, this simple act causes people to do better, especially during exams. One explanation for this is that continuous chewing can increase the activity in the hippocampus, which is an area in the brain that is crucial to memory.
Chewing gum also offers oral health benefits, particularly in reducing plaque. There are also some studies that promote the use of gum to improve oral hygiene as this can provide benefits to people with gingivitis and calculus.
Disadvantages of Chewing Gum
While there are indeed good effects brought about by your gum-chewing habit, many experts still think of this as a big no-no. Regular gum chewers are provided with compelling evidence that chewing gum is something they’re better off without. One reason is that chewing gum is not an effective weight loss strategy. Instead of reducing food cravings, gums can actually motivate you to eat – junk foods in particular.
Chewing a lot can also cause you to have imbalanced jaw muscles, specifically if you are prone to chewing more on one side than the other. This condition is known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), which can become a chronic condition. Aside from this, you could also have gastrointestinal problems because you keep on swallowing excess air. You’ll find yourself bloated and with abdominal pain if you keep chewing gum.
While it has some benefits, you may want to limit the amount of time you chew gum. To get the oral health advantage, you should choose sugar-free gums; otherwise, the risks will outweigh the benefits even more.