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)

INGREDIENTS: SUGAR , GUM BASE , DEXTROSE , CORN SYRUP , NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS , LESS THAN 2% OF: GLYCEROL , ASPARTAME , GUM ARABIC , SOY LECITHIN , ACESULFAME K , COLOR , (TITANIUM DIOXIDE , BLUE 1 LAKE , BETA-CAROTENE) , BHT

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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295 Responses to “Why Chewing Gum Destroys Your Health”

  1. Renge'

    Thank you, Vani, for the gum info. I’m a big fan of Spry peppermint gum, but did not know about the digestive enzymes being released. I have heard of their production waning with age, and am currently in a weakened digestive system state and add them to each meal in pill form. Unfortunately, regarding your alternate suggestion, I hate fennel, and licorice flavor. Instead, I find a little swig of chlorophyll, preferably a mint-flavored one from the healthful store, to be amazing at freshening the breath. Also, munching on a plain stick of celery (yuck) really does the trick too! Thanks for all your efforts to educate the public, Food Babe!!!

    Reply
  2. Michelle Cannon

    My kids stopped chewing gum YEARS ago, when they started sneaking aspartame into it. There is literally only one gum I can find that doesn’t have it. Of course, gum isn’t the only thing they sneak it into these days. As long as they keep sugar in the product, they can sneak the aspartame in without labeling it “sugar-free”, which used to be a heads-up for those of us watching out for this evil chemical.

    Reply
  3. Ian

    Also if you look at the Spry gum it says it contains Titanium Dioxide, do some quick research on that and you will quickly find out why you should avoid that. I make all my own tooth paste for various reason including TD. Do some research on that to show just what people thinking brushing their teeth does to their bodies.

    Reply
    • Nicole (to Ian)

      Could I PLEASE have your recipe for toothpaste? I cannot find one that does not contain carrageenan in it, even at the health food store :/

      Reply
  4. VerMints.com

    Food Babe! Thank you very much for this powerful post on the horrors of chewing gum! Perhaps you and your fellow followers would be interested in VerMints certified organic, gluten-free and kosher mints! We are also vegan and nut-free!

    Check it out: VerMints.com

    Reply
    • Michelle (to VerMints.com)

      I am a type 1 diabetic and needed to replace glucose tablets(has artificial flavors, colors, etc.) for when my blood sugar is low. VerMints to the rescue. I keep them in my purse, coat pockets and car for when my blood sugar drops too low.

      Reply
      • VerMints (to Michelle)

        Michelle! We are so happy to hear our mints are refreshing and were a perfect, healthy replacement to your glucose tablets! Happy Holidays to you!

      • VerMints (to Michelle)

        Michelle! We are so happy to hear that our mints have been a refreshing, healthy replacement for your glucose tablets! Happy Holidays to you!

      • VerMints (to Michelle)

        Michelle, if you could mind getting in touch with us via e-mail, we would love to ask you a few questions. Best, VerMints

  5. Mallory

    So how about mints? Are those suitable to replace chewing gum?

    Reply
  6. karen

    thanks a lot. I now know the demerits of chewing gum

    Reply
  7. Leticia

    PHENYLALANINE is simply an amino-acid. It is a constituent of MOST PROTEINS and is 100% natural and 100% safe.
    The ONLY reason it is listed on gum packages is because people do not expect gum to contain any proteins… But they do contain some, apparently. And the protein-constituent phenylalanine can be dangerous for ONE kind of people: people who have phenylketonuria, a rare condition that prevents from metabolizing phenylalanine. Everyone else is perfectly safe with phenylalanine!

    Reply
    • Kristina (to Leticia)

      Actually!!! If Phenylalanine is an ingredient, which, BTW, is an essential amino acid, it needs to be listed. NOT because it is a protein, but because people with PKU (a hereditary digestive disorder) can not digest phenylalanine. These people will develop the symptoms listed if it is consumed in excess amount. The average person needs this amino acids in moderate amounts and will not develop the symptoms. Please stop sensationalizing things and check your facts ppl!!

      Reply
  8. Ingrid !

    Hi Vini! I recently found your blog thanks to the post on “El Tiempo” newspaper. I have to tell you that I am addicted to gum since i can remember and i almost fall on my butt when i read this post and the facts about aspartame. I decided then do some more reaserch to know the side effects from those that suffer from sweet poisoning and it turned i suffer from a lot of them!!!!!!!! It was so scary. I have thyroid issues that can also explain these symptoms; however, i do not want to know about gum EVER in my life! Thanks for sharing all these things with us and make us want to be healthier…..

    Reply
  9. Amber

    Trident Cinnamon Gum burned me. Literally. The artificial cinnamon flavoring caused lesions in my mouth that felt as though I had swished with extremely hot water and scalded my entire mouth. I have NEVER had a reaction to natural cinnamon. Bad stuff, for sure!

    Reply
    • MARY DEBBIE BESHAY (to Amber)

      I HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM WITH AMBER.TRIDENT CINNAMON IS MY FAVORITE GUM BUT I EXPERIENCED A BURNING SENSATION ALLL OVER MY TONGUE AND SIDES OF MY INNER CHEEK FOR THREE DAYS BEFORE IT’S GONE. I AM AFRAID OF HAVING KINDA “LOSS OF TASTE”. JUST WONDERING …..

      Reply
  10. Becky

    Just an FYI, xylitol is extremely toxic to animals, I know because my dog almost died from ingesting it. Ours was lucky, because she vomited most of it back up. Our vet said that most animals die from ingesting xylitol containing gum. So if you do buy products with this in it be sure to keep it far far away from your pets. You don’t want to end up with a $2000 vet bill like me or with a dead pet.

    Reply
    • Kris (to Becky)

      Hi, I think everything can be toxic if a ‘safe’ dose is exceeded. My dog almost died from cardiac arrest after he’d eaten entire chocolate bar. What’s wrong with Xylitol after all? We’ve ditched all other sweeteners from sugar through stevia at home, now using only it.
      Cheers,
      Kris

      Reply
  11. jill

    Stopping chewing gum (just like stopping eating animal products because of inhumane treatment) does not really solve the big problem. When I buy a NON sugarless gum, I expect it to be full sugar and nothing else. What can we do to keep aspartame out of non-sugarless products? I understand they are also (or soon will be) putting aspartame in milk. I believe the original dentyne and chicklets don’t contain aspartame, but you can’t get them anymore. Most people don’t even realize aspartame is in their food. Is there anything we can do to get these corporations to stop putting this in our food?

    Reply
  12. Mary

    I’m interested in any supporting clinical documentation you have for the statement: “Artificial Sweeteners are proven to stimulate your appetite, increase carbohydrate cravings, and promote fat storage and weight gain.”

    Reply
    • Jo (to Mary)

      I, also, would like to see this documentation. Any citation at all would be appreciated.

      Reply
    • Lynn (to Mary)

      Yes, I too, am interested in the data behind the statement.

      Reply
    • Nancy (to Mary)

      I have read in multiple articles that artificial sweeteners increase your appetite. So much so that I thought that it was common knowledge. That’s why drinking a diet drink with your drive thru food is pointless. It still messes with your blood sugar. You could probably do a web search and find out plenty.

      Reply
  13. Laura

    I love Glee gum. It is non GMO project verified!

    Reply
  14. Kiran

    Hi Food Babe,

    You should consider vitamin gum, as a better alternative to the gums out on the market.

    The gum allows for fast and effective absorption of nutrients into the body, and contains 12 essential vitamins, including 10% each of the recommended daily intake of Vitamins A, C, D, E, B-complex and Folic acid. It is also sugar and aspartame-free!

    Reply
  15. meiswade

    Now I wish my grandfather never would’ve quit smoking cigars using gum… He’s slowly killing himself with that poison.

    Reply
  16. Jerri Greenawald

    As a massage therapist I don’t advocate gum chewing, because of how it effects the jaw muscles, I work on a lot of clients with TMJ issues. If I am going to chew gum this is the only one that I chew, its called Slique Gum: ingredients are Frankincense Resin (Boswellia frereana), Gumbase, Isomalt, Sorbitol, Natural Flavors, Calcium Stearate, Natural Sweeteners, Colors (Red Cabbage Juice, Turmeric,), Slimming Fresh Mint Essential Oil Blend: (Peppermint (Mentha Piperita) Oil, Spearmint (Mentha Spicata) Leaf Oil], Xylitol. Chewing frankincense resin is very healthy for you oral health.

    Reply
    • Donald J Marcus (to Jerri Greenawald)

      That gum can only be purchased through young living or any young living distributor.
      They also make it in a tea formula.

      Reply
  17. Tiffany M

    I found Peelu gum to be effective as well.

    Reply
  18. Don Yosef Marcus

    Go into any Indian food stores to purchase These candied fennel seeds. It seems the Indians were way ahead of us in knowing about & chewing fennel seeds after their meals.

    Reply
  19. Maritza Gomez

    Try “Simply Gum!” Only six 100% natural ingredients. It’s tastes great and you can even make bubbles!

    http://www.simplygum.com

    Reply
  20. Jennjenn

    What about the gum pur?

    Reply
  21. Christina

    I can definitely see gum in the first picture…. Not quite sure what you were trying to prove there but just FYI there are 4 different brands of gum in that picture. And where can I find the research or any studies about how chewing gum taxes your digestive system and makes is produce less and less digestive enzymes ? Thanks!

    Reply
  22. Seekthetruth

    I assume you know that chewing gum was banned in Singapore to prevent littering. What am I saying? Of course you don’t!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chewing_gum_ban_in_Singapore

    Reply
  23. Michelle Middleton

    Somehow when on this page I ended up at a website advertising/selling Simply Gum. What do you think of this brand. Obviously I will still keep in mind the enzyme production, but for kids maybe switching to this occasionally as a treat perhaps?

    Reply
  24. Jenn

    What are your thoughts on B-fresh gum? I use Spry for their mint gum, but for bubblegum, I use B-fresh. Here are the ingredients…. http://www.bfreshgum.com/view/4/9/

    Reply
  25. sarah

    Simply Gum is the only 100% natural gum on the market – all other gums contain “gum base.” Gum base contains a ton of horrible chemicals, including polyvinyl acetate (plastic). That includes Glee, Pur, Spry, etc. – look at the ingredient list – they all have “gum base.” If you ask any of these companies what’s in their base, they will admit that it’s synthetic plastics.

    Reply
  26. Andrew

    GLEE gum is pretty good….give it a try. No GMOs or other bad things in it :D

    Reply
  27. Lori Lieberman, Rde, MPH, CDE, LDN

    hmmm, encouraging sugar alcohols because they’re natural? I guess if you like the resulting natural diarrhea that results from high intake of the stuff.

    Reply
  28. Cathye

    Please do not publish this comment, as my friends, who do not believe me, will recognize this post! Would you please write about the dangers of microwaving in styrofoam as well as plastic bowls and plastic wrap? Nowadays, mu friends just call me a nagging friend and refuse to listen. However, they LIVE by your writings! Thanks so much and forgive me if you’ve written about it recently, as I’m new here! Please, please post it again! You just might be saving a few lives! Thanks again!

    Reply
  29. Sue

    In looking up Xylitol info, here is something I found:

    In a long term toxicology study on rats researchers found that xylitol caused a significant increase in the incidence of adrenal medullary hyperplasia in male and female rats in all dose levels tested (5%, 10% and 20%).5 That means it caused abnormal cell growth in the adrenal glands. In one higher-dose study in which mice consumed 20 percent of their diet as xylitol, there was a significant increase in the mortality of the males as compared to those consuming sucrose.6 A major study in dogs found an increase in liver weight associated with xylitol use.7

    Reply
  30. Mark Stolzoff

    Spry gum has gum base

    Instead of telling customers what they are really chewing, the phrase “gum base” is used to generalize a list of ingredients that is never actually published. As the name implies, it is the foundation agent of chewing gum. We have tried exhaustively to find exactly what modern “gum base” is made from. We found the following babble repeatedly regurgitated by all of the major gum companies. It was obviously meant to derail serious research:

    “Gum base is produced through a blend of raw materials which can be categorized in five classes:

    Elastomers, act as the key ingredient and provide elasticy
    Resins act as binders and softeners
    Plasticizers render the elastomer soft to ensure thorough blending of the gum base
    Fillers contribute to the overall texture
    Anti-oxidants prevent oxidation of the gum base and flavors during shelf life”
    Since this was repeated identically at all websites that we looked at, we can only assume that all of these companies are actually owned by the same people, or at least they are working together as a cartel to cover-up an honest disclosure of what is in gum. We eventually confirmed that the ingredients of gum base are commercial trade secrets. None of the websites told us the full ingredients. For instance, exactly what plasticizer is used? Are people chewing on super-toxic PVC? The plasticizing agents could contain dioxins, and quite frankly, they probably do.

    Reply
  31. Ken

    I am not saying Spry gum is good or bad, but before you supoort any product, please read the ingredient list and do your own research:
    Xylitol is made from sawdust that is chemically treated and digested.
    Peppermint Oil contains pesticides (natural psticides, but are those safer than synthetic pstticides).
    Is the vegetable gylcerin made from non-GMO veggies?
    Titanium dioxide is used to paint tennis courts and spaceships, and has recently been classified by IARC as possibly carcinogenic to humans.
    Is the beeswax harvested from hives protected from pesticides and GMO organisms?
    Spry’s and Food Babe’s marketing is the best…It will fool even the smartest of people unless they know to ask the nature of certain ingredients, and don’t assume that because some ingredients are non-GMO that doesn’t mean all are.
    Do you really chomp on this gum? Would you really suggest others do as well?

    Reply
  32. Holly

    I personally have experienced oral problems associated with commercial sugar free gums. It used to be my go to fix whenever going to the gym or when I wanted to suppress my appetite. Then I started to have a serious burning inside my mouth especially the lips and my inner cheeks. I was diagnosed with Oral Lichen Planus. An auto immune disease. I would have weekly flair ups. A year ago I stopped chewing these gums and have not had a single problem since. I found the culprit.

    Reply
  33. serulin

    Wow thanks so much for this post! Awesome alternative to any freshener and its healthy!

    1 question though, how long does the effect last? And do you really have to chew 1/2 tsp? That sounds like a lot.

    Reply
  34. 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).

    Reply
  35. Gerald (to Linda)

    This is just wrong. Learn about genetics before you post, please.

    Reply
  36. Nick (to Linda)

    Sugar is a molecule. It doesn’t contain DNA.

    Reply

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