Chewing gum is one of those things you do mindlessly while working, while driving or while sitting in class. You might pop a piece of gum into your mouth to ward off bad breath, or to satisfy a craving for something sweet, but you have probably never stopped to think about the effects that a piece of gum can have on your body. Surprisingly, gum chewing can have a positive effect on your health and can even prevent certain conditions from developing.
Cognitive Benefits Of Chewing Gum
Chewing Gum Can Help You Concentrate
Before heading to work each morning, you probably have a cup or two of coffee to wake up and feel alert. Instead of ingesting all of that caffeine, how about chewing a piece of gum for the same effect? Studies show that chewing gum can give your brain a boost and help with concentration. That boost will last for about 20 minutes, but that’s enough to wake your brain up and get ready for the day. (If you’re looking for more ways to stay focused, read 5 Easy Tips On How To Increase Your Concentration.)
Mint Gum Can Wake You Up
If you’re really feeling sleepy, chew some mint-flavored gum. Researchers at Coventry University have found that people who chew mint-flavored gum tend to feel less sleepy than before they chewed it. The researchers also found that people tend to look less sleepy after chewing mint gum, so if you look like you haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep in a while, pop a piece of mint gum into your mouth and chew away.
Chewing Increases Blood Flow To The Brain
Chewing gum can also increase the flow of blood to the brain by 25 to 40 percent. This is important because an increase in blood flow means an increase in the amount of oxygen delivered to the brain. An increase in oxygen, in turn, means the memory can work more efficiently. Andrew Sholey, a professor at the British Sciences Institute in Australia, has shown that the short-term memory can improve by up to 35 percent just by chomping on a wad of gum. (For more ideas on brain boosters, check out Brain Exercises For Memory Improvement To Stay Sharp.)
Gum Chewing Helps You Pay Attention
Other studies show that chewing gum can improve attention spans, induce a quicker reaction time and even put chewers in a positive mood. Research involving students showed that those who chew gum while taking a test tend to have higher scores than their non-gum chewing peers. Students also tend to take fewer breaks and pay more attention in the classroom when chewing gum.
Effects On Appetite
Chewing Gum Can Suppress Your Appetite
A study conducted at Louisiana State University showed that people who chewed gum after eating lunch had less food cravings later in the day. The subjects were less likely to eat high-calorie snacks if they had chewed gum once an hour for three hours after eating lunch.
Chewing Gum Can Reduce Cravings For Sweets
The same study mentioned above along with others, have shown that chewing gum can also reduce people’s cravings for sweets. Some studies have shown that even people who chew sugar-free gum are less likely to reach for a sweet snack. (To get more tips on controlling your cravings, read 10 Tips To Help You Curb Cravings While Dieting.)
Health Benefits On The Rest Of The Body
Gum Chewing Can Prevent Tooth Decay
There’s no better way to prevent tooth decay than by brushing your teeth regularly. But you can’t always brush after every meal, so chewing gum is the next best thing. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends chewing a piece of sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after a meal if you aren’t able to brush your teeth. Chewing gum can stimulate the production of saliva and the physical act of chewing and swishing that saliva around your mouth can wash away any bacteria that may be on your teeth.
Chewing Can Prevent Acid Reflux
An increase in saliva production can also help prevent acid reflux as well as other symptoms of heartburn. Studies show that saliva can act like an antacid in the stomach and the act of swallowing saliva can stimulate the contraction of the muscle walls, which helps you digest your food. For best results, chew sugar-free gum.
Chewing Gum Can Help The Intestines Recover Quickly After Surgery
Here’s one benefit of chewing gum that may really surprise you – it can help your intestines through a speedy recovery after removal of portions of the colon or other abdominal surgery. Studies show that patients who chewed gum after having a major abdominal surgery took less time to start passing gas and to have a bowel movement than those who did not chew gum. The patients who chewed gum were also released from the hospital before those who did not chew gum. Researchers say this is because chewing gum is a way to trick the body into thinking you’re eating. It stimulates the digestive system as well as saliva production and releases gastrointestinal hormones.
The next time you reach for a high-calories snack or even a cup of coffee, grab a stick of gum instead. You’ll not only save a few calories; you’ll also benefit from the surprising impact chewing gum can have on your health.