The Multifaceted Effects of Chewing Gum: Unveiling Its Impact on Stress, Digestion, and Ingredients

by | Sep 4, 2023 | ANFD, Emotional Pillar, Environmental Pillar, Nutritional Pillar

Everybody loves gum, but, alas, this has also changed into a chemical smorgasbord that isn’t helping improve our health. While it freshens breath and offers a quick sensory diversion, it is one more habit that needs to be addressed for its potential health concerns. We will talk about how gums affect the stress response, digestive tract function, and the composition of its ingredients.

Ingredients: A Closer Look


At first glance, chewing gum is considered a piece of nostalgia. Most of us remember the first piece we had, blowing bubbles or that first kiss and wanting to ensure our breath was fresh. However, the ingredients have completely changed over the last few years to include dyes that can affect behavior, fake sugars that can affect insulin levels, and so much more. While many chewing gum products are promoted as safe when consumed in moderation, a more comprehensive understanding of their ingredients and potential effects is essential.
  • Gum Base: Originally, Mayan people chewed chicle, derived from the sapodilla tree,(similar to how we harvest maple syrup) as a way to quench thirst or fight hunger. As the world changed and production needs ramped up, chemists found a way to bypass nature and create a gum based on a synthetic equivalent, polyisobutylene a petroleum-based rubber used to make the inner tubes of tires and polyvinyl acetate, also known as white glue.
  • Sweeteners: With the rage of all things sweet, coupled with the ability to create sweeteners chemically, The range of sweeteners used can span from traditional sources like sugar and high-fructose corn syrup to modern alternatives such as aspartame, sucralose, and sorbitol. More about this below
  • Flavorings: Aromatic flavors like mint, fruit, and cinnamon are added to enhance the sensory experience of chewing gum. These flavors are typically synthetic, again cheaper to make in a lab than waiting on that mint plant, harvesting it, and processing for gum. Can be linked to headaches and failure to focus.
  • Softeners: Softeners such as glycerin or vegetable oils (roundup-based) maintain the gum’s moisture and flexibility. They contribute to the overall texture and mouthfeel of the gum.
  • Fillers and Bulking Agents: Some chewing gum products incorporate fillers or bulking agents like talc, calcium carbonate (usually drywall material or stones crushed), or magnesium carbonate(mainly sourced in China). These substances help achieve the desired volume and consistency of the gum.

The Stress Response and Chewing Gum: A Connection Revealed


One intriguing facet of chewing gum’s influence is its interaction with the body’s stress response system. Research has unveiled a potential link between chewing gum and stress reduction.

Chewing gum stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls relaxation, digestion, and healing. However, if what we put in our mouths contains colors, flavors, and other lab-created food-based chemicals, the opposite occurs, and the stress response is stimulated.
Details about the Sweeteners
  • High-Fructose Corn Syrup: A round-up product that is made in one of two factories in America. One uses a steam bath and the other uses Mercury. When tested found to have 5x the daily allowable amount of mercury in their products. So anything with HFCS is a 50/50 gamble on mercury ingestion.
  • Aspartame: Found in many sugar-free gums, has been linked to various health issues. Digestive disturbances like bloating, gas, and diarrhea have been reported in individuals sensitive to this sweetener. Beyond the digestive tract, some studies have explored a potential link between aspartame consumption and neurological disorders, including headaches, migraines, and even seizures. Aspartame ingestion has also been associated with behavioral changes in a subset of individuals, potentially affecting mood and cognitive function.
  • Sucralose: Sucralose, often marketed as a calorie-free alternative to sugar, has also been widely used in gum. Despite its popularity, concerns about its effects on gut health have also been raised. The risk of digestive problems increases due to the alteration of gut bacteria (kills probiotics), which plays a pivotal role in digestion, metabolism, and even immune function. Many people use this to avoid or help with diabetes, only to find out it alters glucose and insulin levels significantly than sugar.
  • Acesulfame Potassium (Ace-K): Employed to enhance the sweetness in gum, is another artificial sweetener that has drawn attention due to potential health implications. Some studies suggest that Ace-K might affect insulin secretion and blood sugar regulation, which could affect individuals with metabolic conditions like diabetes. Or even set you up for it, as many people are not aware this is artificial sugar.
These effects underline the need for cautious consumption, particularly for children!
Considering Alternatives and Moving Forward
As individuals become more conscientious about their dietary choices, examining what they chew is a significant next step. Adopting natural options takes a second more to order and have on hand, but the health benefits of a clearer habit will astound you. I love incorporating a drop of Spearmint Essential Oil if it is just breath freshening. If you want the fun of chewing, I have enjoyed these brands:
Glee Gum, Pur and Simply Gum are at almost every health food store, easy for a quick grab. The others are online and are more traditional gums. Mayan Chewing Gum, which uses chicle that’s appropriately harvested. If you have latex allergies, you may need to skip this one. And if you are looking for a whole mouth overhaul, check out the Humble Company, created by dentists with whole health and mother earth concerns incorporated (they also have gum).
I am excited to see what happens when you take a good look at gums, especially with your children’s behavior! A little extra work in this department can go a long way!

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