- IMPROVES CONCENTRATION AND MEMORY
Multiple studies have shown that chewing gum boosts mental performance. Cognitive functions, like concentration, memory, and reaction times, were seen to improve when test subjects chewed gum. It is thought that this boost comes from increased blood flow to the brain through the physical process of chewing, with some studies showing as much as a 25%-40% increase. This in turn increases oxygen to the brain, which further helps to enhance memory and other cognitive functions.
- IMPROVES WAKEFULNESS
In addition to memory, many studies have also shown that chewing gum can increase alertness. The chewing movement of the jaw is thought to stimulate nerves and parts of the brain associated with arousal, in addition to increasing blood flow. This may help people feel more awake or stay awake longer. Mint-flavored gum is thought to be especially useful for this purpose.
- COMBATS STRESS AND ANXIETY
Anecdotally, it is found chewing gum can help relieve nervous energy and make you feel calmer. Apparently chomping on some gum can be a great substitute for nervous habits, like nail biting and leg shaking, when feeling stressed. This is backed up by studies, which show that gum chewing helped reduce the stress hormone, cortisol, in many test subjects.
- PROTECTS TEETH
The American Dental Association recommends chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals, since it's been proven to reduce plaque, promote tooth enamel, reduce cavities, and reduce gingivitis. The reason has to do with increasing saliva flow, which reduces acid on your teeth that causes decay. Just always make sure your gum is sugarless, as sugar-containing chewing gums can actually add to acid build-up. Look for gum with xylitol too, which can reduce decay-causing bacteria. Finally, be mindful of sorbitol, which can cause GI discomfort if ingested in extremely large doses. (See also: 11 Foods That'll Whiten Teeth)
- REDUCES ACID REFLUX AND HEARTBURN
For some people battling acid reflux and heartburn, chewing gum after meals may help reduce acid in the esophagus. Increased saliva production is again to thank for this, as is increased swallowing, which clears the acid more quickly. It's wise to avoid peppermint and spearmint flavors, however, which can up acid levels and make heartburn worse.
- IMPROVES BREATH
It's a no-brainer to pop in some gum when you want to fight bad breath, but some are better than others. In fact, researchers found that Wrigley's Big Red, a well-known cinnamon-flavored gum with a plant essential oil for flavoring, reduced bacteria in the mouth that cause bad breath. It seems the key to picking the best breath-freshening chewing gums is to find those with flavors, most of which come from plant oils, that fight bacteria and don't just mask odor.
- IMPROVES EASTING HABITS
While chewing sugar-free gum won't automatically melt pounds, popping some low-calorie sticks can have a beneficial effect towards eating better. Studies show that chewing gum can help ward off some food cravings and make you consume less. The biggest benefit comes from those who reach for a stick of gum instead of reaching for a caloric sweet snack between meals. Also, popping some gum right at the end of a meal, while watching TV, or when other mindless nibbling occurs, can save calories.
- HELPS SMOKERS QUIT
Gum is known to help you battle cravings and avoid unnecessary snacking. Gum is no magic bullet to quitting smoking but chewing gum can help moderate the oral cravings of cigarettes, too. (See also: How to Break Bad Habits)
- RELIEVES DRY MOUTH
Yet another oral health benefit of chewing sugar-free gum includes combating dry mouth. It's been noted that chewing sugarless gum stimulates saliva up to 10 times the resting rate. This is a huge help in reversing oral dryness and the discomfort and problems associated with dry mouth.
- RELIEVES EAR PAIN DURIG FLIGHTS
Having ear pain due to air pressure changes during takeoff and landing on a flight is no fun. It's long been known that there are a number of ways to stop your ears from popping, including yawning, pinching your nose, or even giving little ones a bottle. But, the easiest way may just be to chew on some gum. This helps produce saliva so you swallow more, which can help equalize the pressure in your ears.
- FIGHT NAUSEA
For natural relief against nausea from morning sickness or motion sickness, try a ginger containing chewing gum, like Shewy Recovery. The ginger and saliva production helps to sooth acid and stomach irritability.