When I was a kid, my mother refused to allow me or my sisters to chew gum. This was an incredible injustice in my eyes. Chewing gum was cool! But she stayed firm: she couldn't stand seeing little girls chomping away on gum. To her, it looked cheap, stupid, and classless. Now, as an adult? I have to admit...she was right about that. Chewing gum is probably not your best way to appear intelligent and grown-up.
However, while it may not look great, recent research suggests that chewing gum has some rather interesting effects. In fact, it’s been shown to improve mood, reduce stress, and boost alertness and cognitive function.
In several studies, chewing gum has been associated with improved attention, greater alertness and a more positive mood. Reaction times were quicker when research subjects were chewing gum, and this effect became more pronounced as the task became more difficult.
Not all studies have shown completely consistent results, of course, as is always the way with research. But after reviewing the literature, I'm pretty convinced there's something about chewing gum that gives us a brain and mood boost.
And...if you like your Wrigley’s, here are some other reasons why chewing gum is good for you:
It’s helps keep your teeth healthy. Chewing gum after meals stimulates extra saliva production, which helps to neutralize acid that breaks down enamel and causes cavities. (And while we’re on the topic of dental hygiene, here’s a surprising health reason why flossing just might save your life.)
One final bonus to chewing gum: it can help you lose a little weight. Some studies have found that chewing gum curbs your appetite. I certainly find it nixes dessert cravings, in particular. Right after a meal, the powerful mint flavour (sugarfree, of course) helps sidestep the need for something sweet. (Want more sneaky weight loss tricks? See this.)
So, as long as you can be somewhat subtle about it (no open-mouthed chomping please, ladies!) chewing gum can be a health boon—giving you brain power, a better mood, a trimmer shape, and a gorgeous smile. Totally calorie-free, and without any time investment at all.
Not bad for the humble chiclet.