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Research Shows Chewing Gum Has Health Benefits


Research Shows Chewing Gum Has Health Benefits

Chewing gum is often given negative public exposure.  It sticks to everything, it looks dreadful pasted to our streets, and people resemble cows munching on cud when they chew it open mouthed. The Gum Litter Taskforce (GLT) was launched in 2007 in Ireland.  This is a joint industry, local and national government initiative and Wrigley was a founding member.  Xpelgum, which is a gum removal company, and researchers in Queens University Belfast are working on an inexpensive method of removing chewing gum from our streets. Chewing gum is extremely popular among the Irish population, with over 44% of people regularly consuming it.  That is about €38.6 million towards Ireland’s chewing gum industry.

Scientists have recently discovered that it has some unexpected health benefits.  Professor Andrew Smith of Cardiff University, and Dr Andrew Allen from the University College Cork’s department of psychiatry and the Alimentary Pharmabiotic centre, wrote a paper which was published in BioMed Research International in 2015.  Allen says “the most consistent finding was that chewing gum enhances people’s alertness, whether they are completing tasks at the same time or not.”  “This is consistent with findings from a previous study where we found that chewing gum improved sustained attention, increased heart rate and produced EEG readings indicating a heightened state of alertness.”

Last year a Dutch study published in PLOS One showed that millions of bacteria from the mouth can stick to a chewed piece of gum.  That is about the same as it being removed by a new toothbrush.  Sugar free gum helps to neutralise the plaque acid in your mouth, which causes bad breath and tooth decay.  This proves that chewing gum does enhance dental health.  Another Dutch study last year published in the British Journal of Surgery reports of a “randomised clinical trial of the effect of gum chewing on post-operative ileus and inflammation in colorectal surgery”.  Post-operative ileus (POI) often occurs after having abdominal surgery which means that there is inflammation, and that normal gastrointestinal functioning is slow.  In the study, 58 patients out of 120 were given gum to chew daily after having surgery, and the others weren’t given any.  The conclusion was that “gum chewing is a safe and simple treatment to reduce POI and is associated with a reduction in systemic inflammatory markers and complications.”

A review in the Journal of Clinical Nursing in 2015 also backed these findings.  It reported that “chewing is an effective non-invasive/non-pharmacological and socially acceptable intervention for reactivation of bowel movement post- Caesarean delivery.”


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