Monday, June 15, 2009

Go to Health - Chewing Gum – some surprising benefits

Chewing gum is prohibited in many schools because it can be noisy, distracting and tends to be stuck under chairs and tables. Chewing gum has been considered impolite and ugly, especially bubble gum. Most commercial gum is made with sugar or questionable substitutes such as saccharin and aspartame. Gum chewers can develop pain in their temporomandibular joints (TMJ), especially if they chew on one side of their mouth for too long. That’s the down side. Here are some interesting benefits.

*Aid in weight loss: chewing gum vigorously (100 chews a minute) has been shown to slightly increase metabolic rate. Gum can also be an appetite suppressant. A study found that chewing gum before an afternoon snack caused people to consume 25 less snack calories. While that is not a high number, even a slight reduction in caloric intake can have significant effects in the long term. Gum can be an alternative to mindless munching. Dieters who crave sweets can chew xylitol sweetened gum after a meal to signal the end of eating. Xylitol is a form of sugar found in plants, trees, fruits and vegetables It has 40% less calories than sugar, and tastes as sweet, with no aftertaste. It may be safe for some with diabetes - check with your doctor.

*Abdominal surgery
A new study has shown that chewing gum after abdominal surgery may help in recovery. Chewing gum reduces the time for the gut to become active, lowering the incidence of obstruction of the bowel and stimulating the release of gut hormones. Furthermore, gum chewers have better chances of avoiding nausea and vomiting after the operation.

*Dental benefits: ingredients such as Xylitol and Peelu in gum may help cleaning your teeth, decreasing tooth decay and dental plaque.. The US Army puts xylitol gum in its MRE (meals ready to eat) because it blocks bacteria from producing the acids that cause tooth decay,. Xylitol also increases saliva flow, which helps neutralize any acids and provides calcium to repair any weakened areas of the teeth. Soldiers returning from combat had been showing serious amounts of dental decay. Now they are advised to chew xylitol gum for 5 minutes 3x daily.

*Memory Aid!: An English study of gum chewing showed that chewers scores were 24% -36% higher than controls on immediate and delayed word recall, and also more accurate on tests of spatial memory. Explanations for the link between recall and chewing gum are varied: Chewing gum raises the heart beat by around 3 beats per minute, increasing blood flow in the cerebral area, which could explain the improvement in such brain activity. Chewing gum while taking in information, and chewing again at the time it needs to be recalled, such as in an exam, may aid in a memory association between the action or taste of chewing gum and the information being remembered. Based on these suppositions, a Stanford student has developed a product called Think Gum, popular on campus at exam time. It contains peppermint, rosemary, ginkgo biloba, vinpocetine from periwinkle plants, the Indian herb bacopa, and guarana, a source of caffeine (10 mg per piece). Since simpler may be safer,
My advice is– try xylitol gum – found in natural food and vitamin stores..
Sadja Greenwood, MD – back issues on my blog

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