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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)

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. 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. 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!!!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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 :/

      1. Go to your laundry room or kitchen and get the baking soda. Pour about 1 tsp into the palm of your hand. Stick the dry toothbrush in it. Brush your teeth. Spit out the baking soda. Rinse your mouth. Done.

  4. 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

    1. 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.

      1. 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!

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

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

      4. I emailed the address from your website on Dec 17 and have not received a reply. Possibly the holidays, possibly the wrong email address?

      1. Definitely Wintergreen!!! but Cinnamint comes in a close 2nd…and I will try Gingermint soon…Thanx.

  5. 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!

    1. 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!!

    2. I found the article interesting until the part about phenylalanine. She either has not done her research on PKU or she is using scare tactics. Either way, it makes me doubt other information she may post.

  6. 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…..

  7. 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!

    1. 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 …..

      1. Mary, I just had several trips to the dentist because we couldn’t figure out why my gums were sore and swollen. The skin was literally coming off in several places. It took almost two months to realize it was my trident (peppermint) gum. I, too, have the burning and tingling on my tongue, but the sores and skin loss was frightening! My last appointment was just this week and I’m trying to not chew gum. Very difficult because I’m definitely addicted but so far, so good. Now I’m worried that the gum actually caused more damage than I know of right now….

  8. 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.

    1. 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

      1. Uh, Xylitol IS toxic. Chocolate is not poisonous, but definitely not good for animals to ingest large amounts of.

        I’ve read that in one experiment, rats, when given an amount of Xylitol equivalent to that in two pieces of gum, about 50% of them died. There are other studies with similar results.

  9. 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?

  10. 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.”

    1. 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.

    2. The book “Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills” by Russell Blaylock, MD is a great read and has many references.

      Google the word “excitotoxins” and many good references will come up.

      1. Here are ingredients for their classic bubblegum flavor. I don’t see anything scary here. This is the only gum I allow my kids to chew.

        CANE SUGAR, GLUCOSE, GUM BASE (CONTAINS NATURAL CHICLE), BROWN RICE SYRUP, NATURAL FLAVORS, GUM ARABIC, RESINOUS GLAZE, BEESWAX, CARNAUBA WAX AND RED BEET COLOR.
        Sweetened with cane sugar traded in compliance with Fairtrade Standards, total 42%.

      2. To Tracy: ‘gum base’ is where the plasticizers are placed in ingredient list. Glee Gum’s gum base says it ‘contains’ chicle, but doesn’t necessarily state that it is exclusively chicle, which leaves room under that definition of ‘gum base’ for other plasticizing agents. I don’t know what Glee Gum’s current practices are, but I would ask the company directly what comprises the gum base before trusting that it’s entirely plastic-free

  11. 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!

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

  13. 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.

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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?

  17. 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.

    1. I’ve personally contacted Spry, they said their gum base is naturally derived from jelutong tree and contains no synthetic plasticizers.

  18. 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!

  19. 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

    1. PSSST! Humans are not rats or dogs. There are plenty of things, such as chocolate and grapes, that are toxic to dogs but perfectly safe for humans.

      1. It’s a fact sugar whether real or artificial just stimulates more sugar cravings. Nasty stuff, any sweet cravings fruit is the answer!!

      2. Sorry wrong post but I tho k the chocolate things differs from pet to pet. My dog lived to 15 and ate grapes any fruit Oreos Chocolate cookies anything I did, so I don’t buy into chocolate killing all dogs

  20. 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.

  21. 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?

    1. What? Are you serious? Xylitol is made from sawdust? Wow. I feel dumber after reading your comment. Goodness sakes.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. Have you tried Pur spearmint gum which is aspartame free? We get it on amazon, and the ingredients are:
    xylitol, gum base, natural flavors, carnauba tocopherols.
    The flavor doesn’t last long, but it’s not as harmful as most gum.

  25. Hello,
    My son takes an inhaled steroid daily and because of that has a huge # of cavities. Apparently the steroid is drying out his mouth so his dentist recommended that he chew 2 pcs. of Spry gum 3 x daily to help create saliva in his mouth to protect his teeth.

    Do you recommend anything else besides gum to help him keep his mouth moist on a daily basis to protect his teeth? My son is only 5 and we want to do all we can to keep him healthy!

    Thank you!! <3

    1. I use Biotene mouthwash, which says on the label something to the effect that it is recommended by medical practitioners to aid with dry mouth. Check with your dentist/hygenist on whether it’s suitable for a child. Unlike most mouthwashes, it’s not based on alcohol.

      Chewing gum is easier throughout the day, because he can have it with him to take when needed, and it’s also got the benefit that it can be more efficacious than a mouth rinse in cleaning the teeth after a meal or snack to prevent plaque.

      But for bedtime, when—as the Food Babe says—you don’t want to stimulate digestive juices, the Biotene can be a big help.

  26. I have known about the dangers of aspartame for years and finally found a gum I can chew. It’s called Pur. No aspartame. I can only find it at Meijer though. Less gum and more expensive but if you are an every gum chewer, it’s worth it! I also stay away from fluoride and only drink distilled water.

  27. Regarding Pur, Glee or Spry gum, can anyone confirm that there is no hidden neotame? My understanding is that neotame is so sweet compared to aspartame that it does not have to be listed in the ingredient list, as it is less than 1% of the ingredients (or it is hidden under “natural flavors”).

  28. Does this lady think Singapore doesn’t have gum because it is unhealthy? Gum is illegal there because people stick it under chairs and tables. Spitting is also illegal there.

    1. In the link above, Singapore finally banned gum because when the underground train was opened the gum was mucking up the doors of the trains. I lived there from 1996 to 1999 and personally talked to people scraping gum from the pavement. It gives people a job in a city where cleanliness is respected. You can work until you die cleaning tables in the food courts.

  29. You do know that gum is ban in Singapore, right? That is why their aisle had no gum. It cannot be imported either. It started to help keep the streets clean. Breaking this law has huge fines.

  30. The reason kids chew gum before a test is to help them focus. It is used specifically for sensory integration and to increase test scores. Some people chew pens tops, shake their leg or eat mints to increase their focus. Educators are always looking for an edge.

  31. I was actually chewing gum as I was reading this and I could slowly feel myself with the ring away…

    Thank you Food Babe for exposing the truth!

    Not gonna die today gum… NOT TODAY

  32. The correlation you give between Singapore’s gum ban and the adverse health effects from gum is not valid. Singapore banned chewing gum due to an issue with maintenance and vandalism, not any sort of health reason.

  33. Actually Spry gum isn’t healthy either because the Xylitol they use is a corn based GMO product. You will find this out with a little further research. My family chews a gum made with Birch non-gmo Xylitol gum made by Global Sweet. They have a website if interested.

  34. Try swallowing some saltwater gargle it and then spit it out. If it still don’t work then try putting a ice pack where you’re gums are sore at and wait until recovery

  35. Spry has changed the ingredients – now they don’t tell you what “natural flavors” they use. Use to say Cinnamon flavor. Not anymore! Says just “natural flavors”. This new concoction is more like a spearmint flavor – or an artificial cinnamon. Why does every good product in the world have to change their good ingredients to worse ones?? Happens all the time – to me. I hate this new Spry Cinnamon.

  36. I am recovering from a serious bout of illness caused by chewing sugarless gum. I have leaky gut and I was not mindful. HIGH blood pressure, constipation AND diarrhea simultaneously and horrible achiness. . . oh and TIRED. This confirmed it for me! Thank you funny lady.

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