What’s in chewing gum

Chewing gum is popular: According to estimates, every German chews 100 pieces of gum a year. Even children are often enthusiastic about chewing gum bubbles and the colorful balls from the chewing gum machine, but adults also like chewing gum. The many different types are chewed for a variety of reasons: some use gum to  clean their teeth , others chew nicotine gum when they get the craving for a cigarette.

What is chewing gum anyway?

Chewing gum is a mass that is flexible and easily deformable, tastes sweet or sour, and can be chewed on for up to several hours without dissolving this mass. 

Chewing gum can consist of three different basic materials: 

  1. One of them is  mastic,  a soft resin from the mastic pistachio tree. This chewing gum is preferably chewed in the Arab world.
  2. Chicle  chewing gum  base comes from the white milky sap of the fruit of the porridge apple tree.
  3. However, most of the chewing gum base is  synthetically  manufactured. The basic materials for this are plastics made from petroleum, sugar, fillers and flavorings.

Varieties and areas of application

For a long time, chewing gum has not only been chewed to pass the time, but also used for various purposes. As a result, a large market with different products has developed, so that there are now many types of chewing gum, each promising different effects: 

  • Nicotine gum makes it  easier for smokers to break the habit. It is recommended that you chew a piece of nicotine gum whenever you have a craving for cigarettes, although you should not exceed a certain number of gums per day. By chewing, the nicotine is dissolved in nicotine gum, which enters the bloodstream through the mucous membranes in the mouth. Nicotine gum is not addictive, but it can cause some side effects such as dizziness,  nausea , indigestion and throat irritation. 
  • Caffeine gums  are designed to  replace coffee  or  tea  . Chewing also releases the caffeine here, which is immediately absorbed by the mucous membranes and is supposed to help you stay awake. There are different types that are mixed with different amounts of caffeine.
  • Anyone who suffers from travel sickness while traveling has the option of taking a  chewing gum for travel sickness  . This releases the active ingredient dimenhydrinate. In the brain, dimenhydrinate inhibits the center for nausea.
  • Dental care chewing gum  is used to clean the teeth and supply them with minerals. They are particularly popular after meals when there is no opportunity to  brush your teeth  . A special type of dental care chewing gum is chewing gum with sodium carbonate, which is intended to prevent tooth discoloration. This means that it can be used to support professional teeth whitening to counteract new discoloration. Chewing gum is also used against  bad breath  .

consequence of chewing gum consumption

Chewing dissolves the ingredients in the gum. These mix with the  saliva , are swallowed, enter the digestive tract and are absorbed into the bloodstream via mucous membranes. The oral mucosa already absorbs the dissolved substances into the blood system. 

As a result,  controversial ingredients  such as the sweetener  aspartame also  enter the bloodstream. Aspartame is said to be harmless in small amounts. However, the sweetener should be consumed with caution. Aspartame is toxic, especially for people with the metabolic disease phenylketonuria. Since the sweetener is a chemical product, even healthy people should only consume aspartame in moderation. If you want to be on the safe side, you should therefore buy chewing gum without questionable sweeteners. 

Anyone who chews chewing gum often runs the risk of overstraining the muscles in the jaw and the temporomandibular joints. This manifests itself as a cracking sound in the jaw when chewing. Excessive chewing can therefore lead to dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint. 

Positive effect of chewing gum

Chewing gum stimulates certain areas in the brain that are beneficial in  reducing stress  . Chewing gum also increases blood flow to the brain. As a result, about a quarter more oxygen reaches the brain, which  significantly increases concentration  and performance. 

Many people like to use chewing gum when  taking off and landing in airplanes.  Chewing helps them relieve the pressure in their ears when they fly and   prevent  earaches .

US researchers have also found that  chewing gum boosts  metabolism  .  Our body uses about 11 calories for an hour of chewing.

Chewing gum to prevent tooth decay?

Chewing gum leads to increased saliva production. This washes away leftover food and acids that are harmful to teeth. As a result, oral pH rises again, making it harder for bacteria to multiply. Chewing gums without sugar are better because they offer no  nutrients to bacteria  . The proliferation of bacteria is thus kept to a minimum. Sugar-free chewing gum can help protect teeth from tooth decay.

The naturally occurring sugar substitute  xylitol  in particular has a positive effect on oral hygiene. However, you should be aware that chewing gum is not a substitute for brushing your teeth every day. 

When is chewing gum bad for you?

The body cannot digest or break down gum. So if you  swallow chewing gum, you  excrete it undigested. 

Chewing gum often contains various additives to create a pleasant taste. But not all additives are digestible in high doses for everyone. The possible consequences are abdominal pain and the development of intolerance. The latter occurs mainly when chewing gum contains the  sugar substitute  sorbitol  . Excessive chewing of such gum can lead to  fructose intolerance  . Also, excessive gum chewing can  cause gas  and  diarrhea  .

Remove chewing gum from hair and clothing

If chewing gum has become stuck in jeans, hair or textiles, it is not easy to remove. Here are some household tips:

  1. Put the clothes or textiles with a chewing gum stain in a plastic bag in the freezer for a few hours. You can then scrape off the chewing gum. If residues remain, you can treat them with spirit or petrol. To do this, you should first put the substances on a cloth and use it to rub away the chewing gum residue. 
  2. If chewing gum is stuck in your hair, you should rub the affected area generously with oil, cream or butter and then carefully pull out the chewing gum piece by piece.
  3. When chewing gum sticks to carpet and upholstery, it’s important to let it cure. Cooling packs or cooling sports spray can have a supporting effect. You can then scrape off the chewing gum and treat residues with petrol or spirits if necessary. 

Make chewing gum yourself

You can also make chewing gum yourself. In contrast to many store-bought chewing gums, the homemade chewing gum mass does not contain any artificial flavor enhancers, petroleum or other hidden ingredients. This allows you to chew on the crowd with a clear conscience. 

For the most common recipe you will need:

  • 1 part Chicle (available at the pharmacy)
  • 2 to 3 parts sugar or the healthier version xylitol (natural sweetener)
  • Essential oils (about 1.5 to 3.5 grams for 400 grams of chicle)
  • optionally glycerin (up to 8 grams)

Heat the chicle to 60 degrees Celsius and add sugar or xylitol. Glycerin makes the mass softer and more supple, add a little if you like. When the mass has cooled down to 30 degrees Celsius, enrich it with essential oils and herbs, depending on your taste. Then sprinkle a tray with sugar or  xylitol , roll out the mass on it and cut into gum-sized strips. 

The History of Chewing Gum

The oldest chewing gum is said to be over 9,000 years old and made from birch pitch. Other archaeological findings show that Stone Age people chewed birch resin. Chewing gum was first mass-produced from spruce resin in America in 1848. It wasn’t until 1982 that an elastic chewing gum mass was invented, which also made chewing gum bubbles possible, as we know chewing gum today.

Today, conventional chewing gum is mixed with artificial raw materials and is therefore not biodegradable. As a result, chewing gum takes years to decompose or break down.

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