Why Chewing Gum Destroys Your Health

Wanna piece of gum?

This is a question I get asked a lot and 99 out of 100 times I say NO!

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Check out the candy aisle I visited in Singapore recently. No gum here…

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Candy aisle at Target, pretty much all gum.

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The reason I say no, is because most people offer me gum with ingredients like this:

Wrigley’s Doublemint Gum – Artificial Colors, Artificial Flavors, Artificial GMO Sugars, Carcinogenic Sugars, Toxic Preservatives (Note – This gum has sugar + corn syrup + Aspartame)


Trident Gum Ingredients – Artificial Colors, Artificial Flavorings, GMOs, Carcinogenic Sugars, Toxic Preservatives (Note: This gum has Xylitol + 3 other sugars including Aspartame)

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Bubble Yum Gum Ingredients - Artificial Colors, Artificial Flavorings, GMO Sugars, Toxic Preservatives

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Orbit Gum Ingredients - Artificial Colors, Artificial Flavorings, Carcinogenic Sugars, Toxic Preservatives

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Wrigley’s 5 Gum - Artificial Colors, Artificial Flavorings, Carcinogenic Sugars, Toxic Preservatives

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I used to be addicted to gum. I would totally freak out if I didn’t have some in my purse or pantry after eating. But that’s before I figured out the ingredients in chewing gum were slowly sabotaging my health.

One of the reasons people chew gum is for weight loss. Chewing gum keeps your mouth occupied so you don’t reach for food, right? The main ingredient in all these gums is artificial sweeteners and consuming them will not work as long term strategy for weight loss. Artificial Sweeteners are proven to stimulate your appetite, increase carbohydrate cravings, and promote fat storage and weight gain.

Think about it – when someone consumes something that is sweet, but it has little to no calories – their brain receives a signal to want more calories because their body is not actually getting any energy (i.e. enough calories) to get satisfied.  So that person keeps looking for gratification elsewhere and ends up craving more.

Furthermore, there are more dangerous side effects from artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame, which is considered one the most dangerous substances allowed in our food supply. Over 10,000 complaints have been filed with the FDA on this substance since 1980 and has actually never been proven to be safe before it was approved for use in our food supply. Aspartame is linked to diabetes, auto-immune disorders, depression (which can cause you to eat more – once again), birth defects, and several forms of cancer.

What upsets me the most is that Trident is now advertising its gum is made with Xylitol – but it still has Aspartame in it!  Trident’s marketing is the best…It will fool even the smartest of people.

Another ingredient I should point out specifically that all of these gums have is BHT. It is used as an embalming fluid and in jet fuel. The US Department of Health and Human Services has labeled BHT as a carcinogen but the FDA still allows this in our food supply. In fact, BHT is a banned substance in several countries.  What’s wrong with this picture?

And what’s up with the warning at the bottom of some of the ingredient lists for “Contains: Phenylalanine”? Does the average person even know what this means? Phenylalanine is added to the ingredient Aspartame and could seriously be dangerous if you have certain health conditions. Consuming this substance (if you have a condition that makes you sensitive to this additive) can cause mental retardation, brain seizures, sleep disorders and anxiety. All this from chewing a piece of gum. SCARY.

If I really want to chew gum, Spry is the one of the only brands I recommend – It’s Non-GMO, has no artificial colors, artificial preservatives, GMO or carcinogenic sugars, or artificial flavors and it is made with Xylitol.

Xylitol is a safe sugar alcohol and commonly used in nasal sprays as a natural remedy for allergies and congestion. Spry’s label isn’t lying to you to you either. I love the fact that it tells you which actual “natural flavor” it has in it – peppermint oil.

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So is chewing a gum like Spry ok on a regular basis? Well no, not really.

Chewing gum messes with your bodies ability to produce digestive enzymes, a critical substance that helps you get all the nutrition from food you need into your bloodstream.

Every time you chew a piece of gum, you send signals to your brain that you are chewing actual food. Your digestive organs – the stomach and pancreas get ready to digest food by creating digestive enzymes your brain thinks you need. Now imagine doing this all time and every day by chewing gum that isn’t real food, you’re tricking your pancreas and stomach to produce digestive enzymes when they don’t really need to use them. Over time the digestive organs become overtaxed and stop producing the amount of enzymes they once did.

This is certainly bad enough, but as you age, you lose 1/3 of your bodies ability to produce digestive enzymes too. This is why taking a digestive enzyme supplement in your older years may improve your overall health. (That’s another topic for another time…)

Regardless, some benefits to “chewing” gum were just released in a new study that saw improved test scores in students that chewed gum 5 minutes before a test. Increasing your physical activity even as minor as chewing gum could benefit cognitive function in the brain. Studies like these are pretty fascinating, I wonder if they are conducted just to get people to buy more gum, considering most studies are funded by an interested party in the industry. This doesn’t mean you have to resort to chewing gum to get this benefit, however…

What if you could chew something just as effective that was GOOD for you, freshened your breath and helped you digest food without the threat of reducing your natural digestive enzymes?

Enter…Fennel Seed.

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It’s amazing what chewing on a little seed can do. I purchased this bottle of fennel seed from the new spice shop that just opened in town called Savory. I’ve kept a bottle like this in my purse at all times for years.

Chewing on fennel seed as an after dinner digestive is no secret. It has been used for many years in Asia for medicinal purposes. Fennel seed is proven to prevent gas, heart burn, bloating and upset stomach, freshen your breath, improve eyesight, relieve hypertension, and help coughs and bronchitis.

I always chew some after a big meal and especially after my fair share of dessert. Fennel seeds smell like licorice and taste a little bit like it too. I chew about a ½ tsp and it’s just enough to get my mouth instantly fresh and clean. By the way, you don’t spit these seeds like you would gum. You swallow them because they are food.

Fennel seeds can be your savior when you might be eating more than you would like or foods that you aren’t used to. You can find Organic Fennel Seed here.

So, the next time someone asks you if you’d like a piece of gum, what are you going to say?

If you find this article interesting and think it could benefit someone in your life, please share it – especially with those who are always asking you that question.

Happy Chewing!

Food Babe


P.S. I tried forever to blow a bubble with my Spry Gum…my bubbles were pitiful. I guess that’s one of the downsides of chewing less toxic substances. I’ll take that any day over the alternative


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Really bummed about the lack of big bubble making…

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217 Responses to “Why Chewing Gum Destroys Your Health”

  1. Phyllis

    A natural alternative to gum is the natural forming mastic that comes from the trees in the island of Chios. This mastic is like a teardrop that falls on clean sheets that have been put down by the tree owners. The mastic hardens slightly and is chewed like gum. The mastic has been used from flavoring Greek breads, chewing gum, body lotions, soaps and other products. It freshens the breath naturally. Some companies have processed the gum with sugar and fake sugars but in its natural state it is the best natural gum you can get. It can be found in Greek selling product stores. You can ask for it by (mastiha). You can grind it into powder and put into breads. Chios is the only place on earth that this tree is found. They have tried to plant this tree in other places but it will not produce this mastic. There is a story behind this phenomenon. To learn more go to Utube Chios mastiha.

  2. Jane

    Thank you for sharing the terrible truth about aspartame! I am doing a report on it and this is very helpful information.

  3. Lu Carpenter

    Please look into GUM BASE. I understand it’s basically plastic.

    Polyvinyl acetate? What’s that? According to the article “Behind the Label: Chewing Gum” published this week in The Ecologist, polyvinyl acetate (a type of plastic) is manufactured using vinyl acetate, a chemical shown to cause tumors in lab rats. In fact, in 2008 the Canadian government was so concerned about vinyl acetate used in the production of chewing gum that they added it to a list of substances to be considered toxic. However, according to the The Ecologist article, government regulators were forced to back down due to industry pressure. But is all chewing gum made from polyvinyl acetate? If the label lists “gum base” as an ingredient, it may contain “petroleum, lanolin, glycerin, polyethylene, polyvinyl acetate, petroleum wax, stearic acid, or latex,” according to the Vegetarian Resource Group. The trouble is that we as consumers have no way of knowing which of these ingredients, if any, are included in a particular gum base because manufacturers are not required to go into any more detail! – See more at: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2010/01/chewing-on-plastic-yum/#sthash.mtlMlbyH.dpuf

  4. deirdre

    I had no idea. ive been chewing multiple packs a day for over 20 years. wow.

    • Sue (to deirdre)

      My husband was getting frequent headaches, which he attributed to stress. He finally stopped chewing gum, which was several pieces a day, and the headaches decreased a lot. He would have almost one a day, and they were reduced to 1 a week. Aspartame is in so many things, we have to be diligent and read labels. :)

      • Rebekah (to Sue)

        The headaches were likely due to the chewing and overworking of his jaw muscles, not the miniscule amount of aspartame in gum.

  5. Jeff

    Spry contains titanium dioxide, a known carcinogen.

    • Dan (to Jeff)

      I thought Titanium Dioxide was only carcinogenic when in powder form that has been inhaled (vs. being liquefied and mixed into a form that you chew). I don’t know enough though, so I won’t flat-out say I think it’s safe. Good that you pointed it out though!

      • Jeff (to Dan)

        In the early 90s, I had a chemical exposure book that listed titanium dioxide as a carcinogen at any level. After a couple of moves, the book was lost, and I don’t remember it’s title, but I do remember the page on titanium dioxide clearly. It was a nice little technical book, that I wish I still had. The only studies that are currently are the rat studies that produced lung cancer, and some that show a certain degree of skin absorption. The lungs would generally have a higher absorption rate. The intestinal tract may have similar or greater absorption than the lungs. It has a greater surface area that can be be as much as twice that of the lungs.
        I like the idea of fennel seeds. It’s definitely safer.

      • Dan (to Dan)

        (It won’t let me reply directly to your reply)

        Thanks for the info! Yeah, I’ll check out fennel seeds instead!

    • Kara (to Jeff)

      I use Spry and there is no titanium dioxide on the ingredients list.

      • Brandi (to Kara)

        I just looked at my Spry and there isn’t any of it in mine either.

  6. Sarah

    Thank you so much. I used to be addicted to gum and now I heard what was in it I’m like an idiot to eat this stuff.

  7. Dr. Mohsen S. Ozaibi

    I love the sincerity yet comical view about chewing gum,
    I would love to repost this article and use it for my dental blog and I will ping it and make a link to your original article, if you don’t mind that is.

  8. Tynkyr_Belle

    Oh, sure, you’ll turn down a piece of gum, but you’ll turn around and MARINATE in perfume and scented lotions, oils, sprays, etc. that have TOXIC CARCINOGENS in them, but are allowed, because the fragrance & cosmetic industries are COMPLETELY 100% UNREGULATED.

    Toxins like benzene and toluene (mutagens that have been known to cause breast cancer) you spray all over yourself to the point one can smell your putrid stench 20 minutes after you’ve left a room, but YOU won’t chew a piece of gum?


    You’re like the morons onboard the Titanic who were busy rearranging the deck chairs as they sank.

    • Theresa H (to Tynkyr_Belle)

      Very good point, Tynkyr Bell.
      Reminds me of the folks who come into our department at the City, upset because a notice came with their water bill, stating that a level of a chemical was too high so it needed to be reported (for the record, it could have been too high for an hour and or a few minutes, but it still must be reported). They come in, all upset, saying they are going to start using bottled water, etc. Then I ask them if they smoke……..
      Hahahaha, same thing.
      As my mom used to say “if you are in for a penny, you are in for a pound”. De-tox your life, as much as it is in your power to do so.

    • Shelley (to Tynkyr_Belle)

      Are you implying that Food Babe uses toxic perfumes, lotions, etc.? I doubt it very much. She seems to look into everything put into or onto the body to make sure it’s healthy. That said, I know there are other people out there like you write about, and they don’t make sense to me either. I personally don’t use body lotion, only coconut oil, and I don’t use perfumes, only a dab of essential oil. On the rare occasion that I chew gum, it has only been Spry or Glee for years now. I’m not perfect. It’s a learning experience to try and be healthy and non-toxic in this crazy world we live in, but I do my best.

    • Justin K (to Tynkyr_Belle)

      FAIL. She talks about organic make-up ALL THE TIME. Get a clue before trolling.

  9. Heather

    What about Glee gum? Is that a safe brand? Thanks for your help!!

    • Anuya (to Heather)

      I looked at Glee’s ingredients – seems good to me, maybe even better? (I actually understand what each ingredient is): cane sugar, glucose, gum base is made out of natural chicle, brown rice syrup, natural flavors, gum arabic, resinous glaze, beeswax, carnauba wax and red beet color.

      • Katie Sabo (to Anuya)

        Yes….sugar alcohols like xylitol are a known Contributor to IBS symptoms…. Ie. painful gas .

    • Jodi (to Heather)

      Glee gum is my favorite. I think chewing gum after a meal is helpful. I think Dr. Mercola recently had a write-up that said it is a good way to avoid heartburn.

  10. Sammy

    Wow…. This made me spit out the gum I was just chewing….. Thanks for the knowledge!

  11. Josh

    there’s a new healthy gum out there called PUR… check it out. —> http://www.pur-gum.com/

    they sell it at walmart, whole foods, etc…

  12. nonyabusiness

    IF it comes from a factory, I do NOT eat it, Everything in the grocery store is absolute CRAP!!!!

  13. Shirley

    Spry or similar xylitol gum, is the ONLY gum I chew since it is made with xylitol. Even “normal” gum, like that marketed by Wrigley’s, now has aspartame sneaked into it. And even if it isn’t specifically disclosed and is still used, you can always verify because it will still have that phenyalanine warning on the package. A friend of mine put a stick of Juicy Fruit in her mouth one time, and while chewing it, heard what sounded like electrical noises in her ears. So she looked at the ingredients which showed aspartame. Not saying everyone will hear ‘zzzzttttt”, but in her case, she did. She had never experienced that before. She threw the rest of the gum away, along with what she had been chewing.

  14. Barbara

    I always rinsed and squeezed with water the Trident I chewed. Then I had to stop chewing gum for two years while I had braces. I lost weight. Too much weight and could not regain the lost pounds. So I began chewing Trident again … still thoroughly rinsing it before chewing it. It makes me hungry and I am eating good stuff on my way to weight gain.

    By the way, chewing gum [minus the chemicals] is healthy for teeth, gums and muscles of the jaw. But keep it away from dogs: Xylitol is deadly for them.

  15. joia

    I always have fennel seeds in my purse!! my friends laugh and think I’m ready to cook something, but I’m really doing something healthy!! :-)

  16. Mary Podbielski

    This is interesting. A couple of weeks ago I had a mouse infestation in my CAR! They ate anything and made nests in the glove compartment. They ate paper, left over energy bars, plastic… But lo and behold none was willing to even touch the trident fruity. Gum I had right there in the open.
    That got me thinking, what is wrong with this gum????
    Now I know. The mice were smarter than I was. I should have been eating those paper towels , and not the gum!

  17. Donna

    If you want a clean bubble gum, it’s for big and little kids, try B Fresh Gum. Sweetened with Xylitol and contains 300% RDI Vitamin B12!

  18. Mark Brockway

    Please provide scientific evidence that chewing gum harms digestive enzyme production. Mercola said the same thing and frankly I think this a merely a theory yet to be proven.

    • Jo Mcgonigal (to Mark Brockway)

      Unfortunately nobody is ever going to pay for studies to prove this or most other good theories that don’t benefit a company financially.

  19. Carie Ann

    I have been letting my children chew Glee Gum for years. It’s the only kind we buy. Can you please let us know if it is okay or why it isn’t?

  20. Jillian

    Chewing any kind of gum is not recommend if you have IBS…you swallow too much air causing gas, etc.

  21. Mia

    You don’t find any chewing gum in Singapore because they want to have the city clean not because it’s a “bad food”!! The people there are not allowed to chew any gum (I guess in public).

  22. Polly

    I have known this about gum for some time now and I still CANNOT stop chewing it. I’ve tried over and over to stop cold turkey and I always cave in by late afternoon. Most days I am starting by 10am. I. Hew almost 3 packs of orbit sweet mint per day. My stomach is always upset, I’ve gained 18 pounds, and I’m bloated all the time. What is this addiction? I’ve gone to doctors and they just laugh and say, “there could be worse things to be addicted to”. Can someone please help me kick this habit. Any ideas? I know it sounds crazy, but I’m not crazy.

    • Vanessa (to Polly)

      I was addicted for years. Finally kicked it a year ago. I’d recommend the natural ones listed on this post. But I don’t even do that anymore. I do ginger chew candies – probably not the best thing in the world but better than gum. And I also use organic mints.

  23. Bob

    Might want to do some research before trying to say they don’t have gum in singapore because it is bad for you. They cannot sell it there. That is why you don’t see it in the candy isle.

    “There is a ban on importing chewing gum into Singapore which is strictly enforced. Since 2004, only chewing gum of therapeutic value is allowed into Singapore under the Singapore–United States Free Trade Agreement and the “Regulation of Imports and Exports (Chewing Gum) Regulations.” Gum can be bought from a doctor, but must be prescribed.”

  24. Jo Ann Whittier

    I agree that chewing gum is bad for you because of all the chemicals in then —-But the Singapore has no gum for sale is because they band it years ago because of the mess people left with the gum. The streets & pavements were covered with it! Outlawed it and no more mess!

  25. Vanessa

    I tried the fennel seeds tonight. Bleh! But with all the benefits, I’m committed! Will I get the benefits if I swallow them whole with water or do you have to chew them?

  26. lorraine Mcclure

    I chewed gum non stop because I had to. The only reason I needed gum was for chronic bad breath and now that I am grain free I don’t have that problem. But this info is so great to get out there… thank you for sharing.
    I want to thank my son for his help in figuring out my problem. He is a Medical Student and passionate about health.

  27. Lori B

    Have you looked at the ingrediant list for cinnamon trident? its not carried in every store unfortunately.

  28. Radia

    If I buy gum its always Spry There is also one called “Glee Gum” I heard good things about that one too. (cant find it here on the island though) In the Netherlands (where I’m from) we use fennel tea for newborn who are having cramps and digestion problems. Either they drink a little sip (drops in their mouth) or if nursing the mom drinks a couple of cups throughout the day. I still can not understand why its such a normal thing as long as I can remember in the Netherlands and here its unknown.

  29. Jody

    I have a hard time with posts like these because how does the author know any of this? Where are the sources? Are there links so we can read those sources ourselves? Why should I believe any of the claims here?

    Saying things like, BHT is “used as an embalming fluid and in jet fuel” and therefore drawing the conclusion that we shouldn’t eat it is spurious. Water is used to make all kinds of dangerous things, but using the reasoning here we shouldn’t drink water.

    I am not defending these products, these companies, or these ingredients. I am sure BHT is terrible. I just wish I could find information online that had more fact than rhetoric and actual, sound logic rather than emotional pleas. Typically, any time a site uses the word “truth” a lot, you can bet you’re getting anything but.

    • Megyn (to Jody)

      THANK YOU!

      I almost stopped reading when I read “proven”. Anybody with even a limited science background knows better than to use such language. I have so many friends sharing her articles, that I just want to lead them towards sites that actually use scientific evidence and CITE their sources to support their argument. Hell, even WIkipedia does a better job.


  30. Susan

    I don’t know about the Spry gum, but I was using their toothpaste. I saw something that was going around FB about what the color labels mean on the toothpaste tubes. Green was the best and black was the worst. As I was using Spry, I thought well obviously mine is green. I went and found it was BLACK. Then I started doing my research, I found out that Xylitol is broken down with hexane. I wrote Xclear both via their website and on the FB page, but they didn’t answer so I assumed it is true. I stopped using all their toothpaste and candies. I would avoid their gum, but I do like the idea of Fennel Seeds.

    Thanks Food Babe for all that you do!

  31. Jenn

    I was totally addicted to gum– any brand… And I started getting terrible skin, worse than I had as a teenager. As an experiment on myself I stopped chewing gum for two weeks. Guess what? My skin has never looked better. I now see fun for what it is–something filled with toxins that is doing something bad for my body that it was making my skin break out terribly…

  32. Sarah

    Phenylalanine is only dangerous to people who have PKU; you already know if you have this disorder, as all babies are tested for it, and you will have the same reaction if you eat any form of protein. They put “contains Phenylalanine” on items for the same reason they put “contains nuts.” I’m not saying gum is ok, especially because many people may NOT know they react poorly to fake sugars, but please be careful about information that could cause unnecessary panic.

  33. Brian Williams

    Check out Peppersmith’s – 100% natural ingredients, and the sweeter is xylitol – which is proven to remineralise teeth.

  34. jenny

    i didn’t read through the comments but has anyone talked about simplygum?
    simplygum.com – 6 ingredients. 3 flavors. 2 pieces at once = AWESOME BUBBLES

  35. Dorian Florescu

    Hello everyone,

    I found this gum called pur gum at wholefoods. It made by a France coumpany, I’d say it’s the most natural gum with flavor you can get. The ingredients are: xylitol, gum base, natural flavors, gum Arabic , white tea extract, carnauba wax, tocopherols.

    It’s a little expansive at $4.99 for 80 pieces but it beasts chewing gum that is made to kill you over time instead. Another option is baking soda gum, but it has no flavors.
    Hope this helps

  36. Linda (to Gerald)

    Artificial gmo sugar could come from genetically modified beets or corn syrup. It is artificial because it may contain DNA from species unrelated to the plant, such as DNA from fungus, bacteria, or a virus found to have been resistant to certain pesticide(s).


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