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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. BHT is a banned substance in several countries and is linked to cancer in animal studies.  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 a “safer” brand, although it still isn’t health food or completely clean – 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 safer 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 body’s 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 body’s 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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339 responses to “Why Chewing Gum Destroys Your Health

    1. Lots of great information I never knew!!! I shared it with my son who is having stomach problems and does chew gum so maybe he will quit! tee hee I’ll get him a bottle of fennel seeds! Thanks for all your posts! Knowledge is power! btw those really WERE pitiful bubbles! Do you have any suggestions for me? I have multiple sclerosis and I have terrible muscle spasms in my legs! If I sit for a time it takes me about 3 minutes to be able to stand….Maybe something natural will help. I had been on Zanaflex for them but it didn’t help enough to warrant taking them r/t the side effects etc. thanks again!!

    2. Singapore gives out tickets (pricey ones too) for chewing gum. Have you ever noticed in front of doors like at movie theater all the black blobs on the sidewalks around doors? THAT’S chewing gum folks. Gross. Just as bad as spitting.

      Love the idea of fennel. I’ll put it on my list.


    3. This shocked me as I chew alot of GUM all the time!! Seeing I have had stomach problems,gas and have had
      cancer I think it is time to stop!!

      I have fennel seeds and will try time instead………planning to live longer.

  1. Thanks for the insight into gum. Thanks for ruining another one of my guilty pleasures–first it was Chick-Fil-A, now gum!! Just kidding. I think I already know the answer, but what do you think about sugar coated fennel seeds?

    1. Glad to help 🙂 You’ve discovered the real problem, food should not cause guilt when you eat it.

      Yes – those sugar coated seeds have artificial coloring and GMO sugar… stay away. Fresh Fennel is the best way to go!

      Thanks for Stopping By Deepak!

  2. Wow. Its funny cause I avoid processed foods 99% of the time… but I never put much thought into gum. Thanks for the tip on fennel seeds, I’m going to pick some up this weekend!

  3. If you pop 3 or more pieces of spry in your mouth you can get a decent bubble.
    Sometimes I chew it right after eating to freshen my breath and give my body and extra boost of digestive enzymes while I am actually digesting.

  4. PS: Singapore does not sell gum because its government feels that the way some people spit gum harms the cleanliness of the country NOT because gum contains ingredients you don’t understand.

    1. Hi Lindy! Thanks for sharing. I understand this. I was just showing a recent photo from my travels to Singapore.

      1. You aren’t just ‘sharing’ a photo when you post it this way. This is a direct implication that somehow Singapore knows something we don’t, and that is why they don’t sell gum. If you want to present facts and information, present them as such, don’t sensationalize them and then cry when people call you out for providing misinformation! I appreciate the information you share and want to learn more, but not when it is intentionally deceptive to garner more attention. It throws all the information you provide into question and does nothing to further your stated goals

  5. Hi! While I entirely agree that artificial sweeteners are awful, especially aspartame, I wanted to address some misinformation here:

    “Phenylalanine is added to the ingredient Aspartame and could seriously be dangerous if you have certain health conditions. Consuming this substance can cause mental retardation, brain seizures, sleep disorders and anxiety. All this from chewing a piece of gum. SCARY.”

    Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that is in a ton of natural foods that are high in protein. The warning label for Phenylalanine is put on products that contain it simply because there are people out there with the’genetic metabolic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU)

    It is dangerous for people with PKU to ingest.

    So, while I 100% agree aspartame is bad news, and I am by no means an expert on this at all, this is is something I think is important to be aware of. 🙂

    1. Thanks for stopping by Sarah to add this additional clarification and information. The only reason they have to list this ingredient warning is because the gum contains aspartame. When aspartame is broken down in the body it creates high levels of this amino acid in the brain (along with formic acid!) If the gum didn’t include aspartame – the FDA wouldn’t have to list the warning. My point was related to the fact that the average person probably doesn’t know what this means and if you have “certain health conditions” (i.e. PKU) then it would be SCARY!

      1. It’s not “certain health conditions”. It is PKU. Period. If you had it, you would know what the warning meant.

      2. I agree – this was the first thing I noticed when I read this. If you have PKU, you know.

        I feel like it discredits everything you say when you make statements that are patently untrue.

      3. Actually phenylalanine can be unsafe in pregnancy and breast feeding as well as it can increase the chance of birth defects. Those individuals with schizophrenia should use it with caution as well as it can cause worsening of tardive dyskinesia. There.

      4. Actually phenylalanine can be unsafe in pregnancy and breast feeding as well as it can increase the chance of birth defects. Those individuals with schizophrenia should use it with caution as well as it can cause worsening of tardive dyskinesia. There.

      5. You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about. Schizophrenia and tardive dyskinesia are not even related, except that medications used for the former can cause the latter. So phenylalanine has NOTHING to do with schizophrenia UNLESS you already have tardive dyskinesia. In that case, yes, ingesting phenylalanine can make the TD worse. Again, that’s a fairly uncommon occurrence.

        By the way, I wouldn’t ingest this crap anyway, especially when pregnant or nursing, but let’s just be factual.

      6. Actually yes, I do know what I am talking about as I work in the medical field. And yes schizophrenia is related to tardive dyskinesia as it is a side effect of antipsychotics that are recommended in the treatment of schizophrenia.

      7. No, you actually said the two were unrelated. I am a nurse and currently working on a DNP. I’m not trying to have a senseless argument. I was just merely stating that there are other medical conditions that exist for which you want to avoid phenylalanine. You stated “It is PKU. Period” to which I refuted by suggesting other medical conditions. That’s it. I never told you that you had no idea what you were talking about or criticized your level of knowledge.

  6. you look gorgeous trying to blow a bubble with your gum.

    thanks for sharing this bubble gum gem. have been wrestling with whether to continue chewing or not.

    now, where can i find Fennel in my neck of the woods here in the Philippines?

    1. I bet you could find it! The majority is exported from India – so you are way closer than we are 🙂

  7. I’m so glad I have found your blog! I am a chronic gum chewer (Oribt) and just knew it was bad. However, I just tried the fennel seeds after dinner and had to spit them out! I hate licorice and don’t love fennel. Any other suggestions on what to chew!0? I’m going to try the Spry gum. Thanks!

  8. I am surprised you find this gum acceptable since one of the ingredients is titanium dioxide. From what I understand, T D is used to make paint, plastics, etc. white Here is one of many sites questioning the safety of it in our food (and personal products) and possible links to cancer-

    1. I haven’t found concrete evidence on TD being a carcinogen. TD is actually used to provide white pigment and is a naturally occurring mineral. This site for organic makeup below concludes based on all the studies there is no evidence that we absorb this mineral into our bloodstream. I know this gum is light years better than the rest and like I said in the post – I don’t recommend chewing gum at all. IMO – everyone should use fennel to freshen their breath and improve digestion.

  9. I know this is an old post but I just learned of your awesome info and a real food lifestyle last month. So I just wanted to add that XYLITOL the sweetener is also LETHAL FOR DOGS. The smallest amount can kill a dog. It will cause organ failure and, seizures and deah. We lost our 10 month old puppy due to xylitol that is found in gum and toothpastes. I noticed that the gums that you featured here also had xylitol…so I wanted to add our experience and another reason why gum is not so good. Thank you for your information. I learn something new from you allt he time and share it with others.

    1. Yes! I’m surprised that is not more well known! My dog ate a WHOLE pack of gum with xylitol and I never would have known had I not looked it up right away. And you have to act fast because their blood sugar can plummet in just 15 minutes! My dog is fine but I’m surprised this kind of stuff isn’t more well known.

    2. Chocolate kills dogs too. Our metabolism is different from theirs. You should look into whether the reasons it’s toxic to them applies to us. I don’t know.

  10. Thank-you!! This is my pet PEAVE!! I quit chewing gum when they started loading it with
    artificial crap! Even Wrigley’s Spearmint. I’m sure it is because the artificial stuff is cheaper to produce. Whatever happened to quality in this country?? It caved in to the profit of big corporations.
    Speak with your dollar folks!

  11. I salute you for creating this site in order to spread your views on the dangers in the food chain. Back in my day, we protested at the grocery stores.

    As for the adequacy of warning labels (you obviously would prefer to see these much expanded), we have seen significant improvements to them. Now we see warnings, not for the general masses, but to a select few for whom there is added risk. Similar to the PKU warning, my late wife knew the person who died from sulfites contained in wine, and through that family’s efforts, we now see this universal warning on wine bottles sold in the U.S. We also have voluntary food label warnings for those persons with specific food allergies.

    Your reader brought up a valid point regarding the additional dangers from some food ingredients if ingested by cats or dogs. Many people, but not all, know the dangers of feeding them chocolate or peanuts. Also, overheating a PTFE (Teflon) coated pan can create odorless gasses that are instantly deadly to pet birds. This doesn’t mean that people should stop enjoying them, only that they need to be mindful when they do.

    Continued success.

  12. Excellent!!! Very excited to try chewing fennel seeds. I’m not a fan of licorice, but I will take that dislike in taste if it means it’ll aid in digestion. Especially since I’m sure they’re cheaper than digestive enzymes. Great!

  13. I used to chew gum ALL of the time. Like, 5 pieces a day, sometimes more. It was my stress reliever. I bought fennel seeds after reading this post and I keep them at my desk. I chew some when I’m studying. I have 2 more pieces of gum left in my bag. Who knows how long they might stay there? 🙂

  14. At our house, we only buy Glee Gum . The ingredients list is much more manageable: Cane Sugar, Glucose, Gum Base, Brown Rice Syrup, Natural Spearmint flavor, Gum Arabic, Resinous Glaze, Beeswax, Carnauba Wax, Chlorophyll.

    Not sure what a couple about a couple of the ingredients, but still much better than most.

      1. I am not a huge fan of licorice either, but I love fennel. The fact that it helps your digestive system, makes it addictive to me!

  15. I do not allow any “food” or candy that has Contains: Phenylalanine on the label. I started adding crystal light on the go to by bottled water and started having strange symptoms. hair loss, severely blurred vision, stomach aches and heart palpitations. I only used the Crystal Light for a week. I research the symptoms and compaired them to the ingredients and found out I had Aspartame poisoning. I immediately stopped comsuming anything with Phenylalanine and all symptoms were gone within two weeks. I do not allow my children to have anything sugar free and stopped my daugter from taking her reflux meds which also contained Phenylalanine. She was getting terrible stomach pains from the medication so I dug further and discovered the ingredient. She now used Bragg’s Apple Cider vinegar for her reflux and has not had an issue with stomach pain since. This ingredient is nasty stuff. A friend of mine had a seizure years ago and the dr told her to stop using Sweet and Low. She hasn’t had a seizure in over 20 years.

  16. I’ll give this a try! I chew gum like a fiend but I would absolutely rather chew something with no chemicals. And I’d rather chew real food. Thanks for the suggestion.

  17. Aspartame is nasty stuff. Gives me migraines. The only gum I’ve ever seen without it (even if they are not “sugar free” is the bubble yum you listed above. I miss gum!

  18. I used to be ADDICTED to chewing gum in high school and had stomach issues all the time. Cleaning up my diet AND quitting gum helped me a lot. I now drink David’s Tea Fired Up Fennel most nights after dinner. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should, it’s spicy and delicious!

  19. I chew Spry gum all the time. The flavor doesn’t last very long but at least I know what is in it isn’t going to poison my body 🙂 And thanks for the tip about fennel. I never knew about that one.

  20. I just want to point out something regarding “contains: phenylalanine”. You’ll notice on the gum that it is written in bold block lettering like sort sort of serious warning, which it is.

    Some people are born with a condition called Phenylketonuria (PKU). These people lack the enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase which is needed to break down the amino acid phenylalanine. As a result, phenylalanine builds up in the body which then harms the nervous system and can cause brain damage. Since these people have to follow a strict diet, that’s where the labelling comes in. Someone can’t eat the gum, get sick, and then blame it on the gum saying that they did not know. It’s not a matter of phenylalanine being bad; it’s an essential amino acid.

    1. I didn’t see your response, Poet. I made a similar point down the line. Thanks for fact checking!

  21. My 3rd grader just had homework this week-read and answer questions-about how chewing gum improves concentration, and write a sentence if you think teachers should let you chew gum!

  22. I also wanted to mention that while Xylitol is a safer option for humans, it is LETHAL to dogs even in small amounts so if you use products with xylitol please, please keep them in a secure place and out of reach. I have seen too many dogs come through the ER after getting into their owner’s purse or counter surfing and eating the gum…some made it, some didn’t, all depends on the size of the dog, how much they ingested and how long between ingestion and treatment, etc. If you even think your dog has eaten any product with Xylitol, get them to an Emergency facility IMMEDIATELY!

  23. I finally got my husband to give up the gum habit. He has really jumped on the Real Food bandwagon, too. He has rude nicknames for some of the ingredients. He calls high-fructose corn syrup “high f***us” and acesulfame k “a**es aflame”. When he wants a fresh mouth after eating he uses (and then chews on) these flavored toothpicks he gets from Whole Foods. There are a couple of different brands, but this is one:

  24. I want to take exception with the “phenylalanine” warning you made. Phenylalanine is a natural substance, taken in with almost every food, including mother’s milk. The only people who need to be concerned are people born with a genetic condition called phenylketonuria, or PKU. Early in life, intake of phenylalanine must be greatly restricted for these children, because they cannot convert this amino acid into tyrosine. This interferes with development of the nervous system, and yes, can result in mental retardation. These individuals can become less vigilant as they age. Every child in the United States is tested for this condition on the day they are born (if born in hospital). Phenylalanine is a precursor for many important neurotransmitters and hormones, such as dopamine and adrenaline.

  25. What about the titanium dioxide in Spry? I just read that it is directly linked to cancer. Its in EVERY “natural makeup” I can find. Would you know of a clearification on this? Cause of right now I am avoiding it all together, but if anyone knows anything different PLEASE SHARE!

  26. After reading this I am looking for other ways to have fresh breath, I admit I chew gum all the time. While I’m not opposed to trying the fennel seed route (fennel is not one of my favorite things). I was curious as to whether peppermint oil or extract could be added to water to freshen one’s breath. What are your thoughts on this, is it something that would work? I was thinking maybe this would be any easier transition for a hardcore gum chewer.

    1. Fresh Parsley cleans/freshens breathe and your bloodstream. Chew on that after dining!

  27. Thanks for posting this. I’ve been having a lot of stomach issues lately and I usually chew gum after meals. I guess my body is just not digesting the food properly.

    1. Hi – In spite of a pretty healthy, balanced vegan diet I was having issues after eating. It took me nearly a year to discover it was gallstones. Had it out a few weeks ago and am “cured” as long as I avoid things that have artificial coloring or too much raw broccoli. Just thought I would mention it because I was stunned but my Dr. said it also runs in families. Both parents had theirs out.

  28. I stopped at the store this morning to buy my weekly gum stash while on my way to work. Then I decided to read the ingredients on the back of the pack….then I proceeded to read every pack of gum at the store looking for one that didn’t have all the additives and other junk in them. I was so devestated when I had to walk out the store without gum. When I got your email I was so relieved I wasn’t the only one who had to give up my addiction! I will most definitely be trying the fennel seeds!

  29. Thanks for sharing the info! I guess my body knew long before I did about how toxic chewing gum actually is. I haven’t chewed any for years, like almost decades really.
    I would love to see what a grocery store would look like if we could purchase all these chemicals and additives off the shelves like we can with the processed food it makes…Is it even legal to buy any of those “ingredients” anywhere? Where can one buy this stuff anyway…BHT, modified corn starch, aspartame, yellow six? Hmmm, food for thought!

  30. I cannot wait for the day when ORBIT GUM is made with STEVIA and STEVIA ONLY!!! I waited ten years for sodas to be made solely of STEVIA… Lets HOPE I don’t have to wait another ten years for the gum!! And I am sorry but I have to admit, all of the “natural” gums on the market these days are, terrible! The flavor lasts about negative 5 seconds! lol

  31. I learn something new from you everyday and I absolutely love it! I am glad someone like you is willing to share their knowledge with everyone. It is much appreciated! Have never heard about fennel sees being a breath freshener, but now I want to go get some!!

  32. Love your stuff! Question about xylitol, I’ve been buying xylitol lollipops and candies for my son (no artificial colors, only xylitol and no other sweeteners) from Dr Johns. What do you know about this, would you recommend it? Thanks!

  33. I wish you would have a show ! With organic advertisers 🙂 I havent had gum for four years! Thank you for fennel seed tip! Im going to try it.

  34. well there’s is one more reason I’m gonna die! Geez! I chew gum every day. When I think I am hungry, I chew gum, it seems to work to keep me out of the fridge at night. And I stick a piece in my pie hole before I go to the grocery store, I think it helps me from impulse buying when I’m hungry. I’ve given up smoking, candy and french fries, so I guess a few pieces of gum at my age (58) won’t kill me any sooner than the cigs would have. I do appreciate all your advise about healthy vs unhealthy foods though. I think I have finally learned to relax and everytime I turn around I read something to worry me all over again. Yikes!

  35. You are so right! If I am going to have gum I chew Glee Gum. Everything on a regular shelve is full of nasty chemicals. I’m going to have to try the fennel seeds too!

  36. After reading your article I wondered about the makeup of the older flavors of gum such as Blackjack, Clove, Beeman’s, Teaberry, etc. Searching around on the ‘net it seems that these are supposedly still made with real sugar, basic gum base, and from the original recipes without the types of additives in most gums. Can you substantiate this? I don’t have a retailer locally that sells this and I like to keep gum in my purse for the occasional emergency. I found it also keeps me awake if I happen to have to drive at night. Otherwise, my only oral fixation is pure water, which I drink pretty much all the time. Thank you for your interesting and well-written article!

  37. Stupid question here; what about gum with sugar? Not a great choice for everyday, I realize, but occasionally?

  38. Thanks for this! I recently tried Glee Gum to get away from the aspartame but wasn’t a big fan. I’m totally going to try fennel. Thanks!

  39. Thanks for all the good work you do to keep an eye on big business food supply. Do you make funding from the links on your site from suppliers you mention like Spry, Savor, Simple Organics? I am wondering how you have funding to do all the travel, researching and writing full time.

  40. Ok, I’m convinced. Count me in. One problem? I’m not a fan of licorice taste. Any other ideas along the same lines?

    -Trident addict

  41. Another reason to not chew gum is it can cause teeth grinding. As a teenager and early 20-something, I ALWAYS had gum in my mouth. I also ground my teeth. I never considered it was due to the gum chewing. Once I got a job after college, I stopped chewing gum, and low and behold, I stopped grinding my teeth also. But…not before I caused damage to my teeth. I gave myself abfractions which required fillings. My dentist said quitting gum is the first thing he recommends to people who grind their teeth. If the mouth is always in motion during the day, then it tends to stay in motion at night too!

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