Chewing Gum

What’s Really in Your Chewing Gum?

In Health by Edward JohnsonLeave a Comment

We all want to be attractive, this isn’t only attributed to mating but is an entirely social concept. Like all things in life it raises questions like to what extent should we go to attain fresh breath? & Have we grown lazy in our oral hygiene? Growing up certain adults told me not to chew gum or at least not for long periods of time. I never got why so of course kept doing what I was comfortable with. Everyone chewed gum & they seemed fine so what’s the big deal? We get so many sweet & minty flavors that are basically irresistible. Our ancestors have been recorded chewing on barks, resins & grasses to freshen breath & take care of plaque. This of course is a lot more natural than the aspartame, red 40, yellow 5, Titanium Dioxide, “gum base”, BHT etc. that we use today.

Aspartame is probably the most popular ingredient. With a linkage to birth defects, cancers, brain tumors & weight gain there isn’t much reason why it wouldn’t have some notoriety. It is believed to metabolize as a wood alcohol, this is a nicer way of saying “poison”. Butylated hydroxytoluene or BHT, in acute doses has caused hepatic (liver) & renal (kidney) damage to male rats. Some studies showed increased liver weight & inactivity of hepatic enzymes. When applied to the skin, toxic effects are associated with the lungs. Cleared as safe by the FDA & WHO (World Health Organization), Titanium Dioxide is not considered toxic.

Recently, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified titanium dioxide to be a POSSIBLE human carcinogen. Making it a group 2B carcinogen, one class away from lead & lead compounds which are considered a 2A carcinogen. Please keep in mind that according to the American Cancer Society  “Group 2A: Probably carcinogenic to humans” while “Group 2B: Possibly carcinogenic to humans”.  So how safe is it? A study from 1999 at the university of British Columbia showed that “ultrafine particles of the anatase form of titanium dioxide, which are less than 0.1 microns, are pathogenic or disease causing”. Anatase is one the three forms Titanium Dioxide takes, rutile & brookite are the other two. Another study concluded that cytotoxicity (danger to the cell) was dependent on the particle size of titanium dioxide. It can be found in sculpting stores, or metal foundries with the purpose of causing chemical reactions on metals. What is “Gum Base”? Where can it be found? Well, we don’t really know. From very little investigation we know of a typical mix of elastomers, resins, plasticizers and fillers. What is a filler? The mysteries seem to grow with every ingredient that is scrutinized. Allura Red AC aka Red 40 is an artificial food coloring that comes from petroleum distillates or coal tars. It is known For the fostering of allergic reactions & hyperactivity in children. Para-Cresidine is a chemical compound found in Red40 which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says is “reasonably anticipated” to be a human carcinogen. Tartrazine aka Yellow 5 has been & will more than likely be the focus of studies on mutagenesis and carcinogenesis. I don’t think I need to elaborate further on that one.

If you’re like me you thought xylitol was cool. Although it can be naturally derived from plant based fibers, the manufacturing is not as sweet. Production of most of the xylitol we all know & love is brought about through a process known as sugar hydrogenation. Raney nickel happens to be the chosen catalyst for said process. Never heard of it? Neither have I. I now know it’s a powdered nickel-aluminum alloy. Heavy metal absorption has a known corroboration with lowering the IQ & other mental defects. You’re probably thinking you’re a little safer due to you not swallowing your gum. Although it’s not being swallowed these common ingredients are being ingested via your cheeks, tongue & gums. Now that we’ve formally met the ingredients, let’s look at the effects of the actual behavior of prolonged chewing. We all know at least one person who thinks they can’t live without chewing gum. Excess chewing puts stress on the cartilage of your jaw designed to absorb the shock of chewing. This has been linked to Temporomandibular Disorder or TMD.

Pain is your body letting you know that something is wrong, they say they’re unsure how the disorder occurs but excess chewing my be the culprit. When chewing gum most chew on one side preferably to the other. Overworked muscles will become defective; your body will literally be screaming “what about the other side?!”. I’ve actually experienced less headaches after cutting down on my chewing. I also developed the bad habit of clenching my jaw & am constantly telling myself to relax. Gum causes over stimulation of the saliva glands. We know that anything that is overworked or overstimulated is never good. IBS flare-up? You may be taking in too much air in your gut. This air puts pressure on the intestines cause bloating & cramping. Speaking of the gut & chewing, YOU ARE LITERALLY TRICKING YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM! Think about it, you’re chewing but there’s no food. As the machine it is, when one function begins the others follow suit. Normally there’s food for your body to break down but there’s no food when you’re chewing gum. I’ll let you fill in the blanks about what’s happening in your gut when you chew gum.

So what are solutions? How can you stop your breath from kicking? In all honesty, brushing more frequently & for longer periods of times will keep your breath fresher. Carry a teethbrush & teethpaste (yes I know I said it “wrong” but do you have a tooth or teeth?). Preferably free of fluoride (fluoride has been known for the allocating of heavy metals in the brain). Having braces taught me the importance of frequently brushing due to potential staining from the brackets & rancid breath from the food stuck in between. So please just brush & floss often, I promise you’ll still be approachable.


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