2012-05-31 / Community

The amazing health benefits of chewing gum

It happened to all of us at one time or another... we got busted for chewing gum in school, and then had to stand in the corner or wear it on our nose for the rest of the day. What fun! But lately, many teachers have reversed the nogum in-school policy by encouraging students to chew gum during tests to help increase alertness and concentration.

Many experts claim that chewing sugarless gum is good for us in many ways. There is growing evidence that chewing gum can enhance brain function. Improved memory, increased attention, and enhanced learning ability have also been reported. Chewing gum has also been shown to boost your brain activity for better cognitive powers and concentration.

Sugarless gum can contribute to good oral health by increasing the flow of saliva which helps flush sugars, good debris, and decaycausing acids from the mouth, preventing tooth decay. This increased flow of saliva has also been shown to benefit mineralization of tooth enamel. Gum chewing will freshen your breath, reduce plaque, and help keep your teeth cleaner by preventing stains. We must still brush and floss twice daily, though!

Chewing gum during times of stress can reduce anxiety levels and improve your mood. The rhythmic motion of chewing gum can release nervous energy and stress. It keeps your mind distracted from your worries. Whenever you feel irritated or frustrated, a stick of gum may help you relax. Try this the next time you are stuck intrafficorwaitingnaverylong line. A stick of gum may be just what you need during that afternoon slump we all experience. It can help keep you alert when you get sleepy in the afternoon and is much better for us than the usual candy bar.

Contributing to weight loss is another plus for chewing gum. Such a small, sweet, portable snack offers very few calories, (only 5-10) while satisfying your sweet tooth. The act of chewing and the flavor can help you fight your cravings for higher fat and calorie snacks. Chewing gum can burn about 11 calories per hour. When you chew gum after meals, your digestion will also be improved. Excess saliva is produced which affects the digestive acids in your stomach. This helps improve intestinal motility (the movement of food through your system) and can prevent acid reflux. If only someone would invent gum flavored like pizza, dark chocolate, and sauvignon blanc, I’d be a happy camper! Yay, gum!

So, for less than a dollar we can choose from hundreds of brands and flavors to help us in all of these wonderful ways. Chewing gum is cheap and easy, almost anyone can do it, so why not pick up a pack of wellness today?

The information presented here is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease. Your help concerns should always be directed to your healthcare provider, but chewing gum is a small lifestyle change that can have a big impact long term.

Everyone will react differently and although there is no standard outcome for everyone, maybe we can all finally learn to walk and chew gum at the same time! Let’s just not dispose of it on the sidewalk.

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You can reach Cathy Kaltz, Certified Worksite Wellness Specialist, at (906) 286-0985 for information on individual or worksite wellness programs, wellness seminars and presentations for your group, or information on chronic disease selfmanagement programs that are available in our area.

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