After a meal, reaching for a stick of gum often comes to mind. It seems harmless and no one wants to have bad breath, so no harm, no foul, right? Aside from the post-meal piece of gum, many people chew gum out of habit, whether it relaxes them or eases stress, or because they simply enjoy it and have so since their love affair with gum began. But what if we told you that those minty (or sometimes fruity) sticks of gum were killing your gut health? Don’t stop here if you’re a gum lover, because you may want to kick that habit to the curb after reading this…. especially once you realize that these aren’t just strange coincidences.
Gum Doesn’t Curb Your Food Cravings, it Only Enhances Them
You may be thinking that by chewing gum your keeping your hunger cravings at bay, but in actuality, this only proves to make you hungrier. And not only does your hunger increase, but you can begin to feel cravings for those foods you should be avoiding altogether–particularly junk food. In a recent study, it was discovered that habitual gum chewers were proven to eat less fruits and vegetables at mealtime, as the aftertaste from mint flavored gums gave fruits and veggies a bitter taste.
Chewing Gum Invites Painful Digestive Issues
Whenever you chew, this causes you to swallow excess air. These air pockets then lead to abdominal pain and bloating, which is ultimately uncomfortable and makes you belch to get relief. Chewing gum is an unnatural act for our bodies, because the only other times that we use our mouths to chew is when we are eating. Once you start chewing, your body signals to your stomach that there is food that will soon need to be digested. Then as the chewing persists, the enzymes and acids that are activated become confused when there is no food entering for them to break down. This overproduction of stomach acid can create serious issues when you actually do eat food, because the balance is now out-of-whack and causes indigestion.
Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS) Can Be Caused by Excessive Gum Chewing
IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder that causes severe cramping, abdominal pain, and irregularities in bowel movements. “Chewing gum can contribute to IBS, as excess air can be swallowed, which contributes to abdominal pain and bloating,” says Patrick Takahashi, MD, chief of gastroenterology at St. Vincent Medical Center, Los Angeles, California.
Most Gums, Even Sugarless, Contain Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are toxic for your digestive health, and your body can develop an adverse gastrointestinal reaction to these dangerous chemicals. Artificial sweeteners like Splenda causes damage to your body by distorting your biochemistry to stimulate your appetite. Do yourself a favor and ditch the gum for an occasional mint, because you don’t need it to wreak havoc on your gut health when you’re just trying to freshen your breath.