Does Chewing Gum Have Side Effects?

Chewing gum is something a lot of us wouldn’t think twice about while going through our day, but according to a new study from the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Binghamton University, an ingredient found in most chewing gum contains nanoparticles of titanium oxide, which can damage an individuals intestines if consumed in the right quantities. Although researchers note that this ingredient is practically “unavoidable” due to it being found in a lot of products like toothpaste, sweets, mayonnaise, and chocolate to improve a products texture and enhance and brighten the natural colour of foods, the researchers at the University made an effort to note that titanium oxide may also be used for “white pigmentation in paints, paper and plastics” and is an “active ingredient in mineral-based sunscreens for pigmentation to block ultraviolet light.”

During the research, the effect of titanium oxide in the body was examined and results showed that researchers had in fact found two major results. The first being that after exposure to nanoparticles of titanium dioxide, the ability of the body’s small intestine cells to absorb nutrients had decreased and the ability to block out harmful pathogens was “significantly decreased.” Scientists exposed a replica of a small intestinal cell to the equivalent of a meal’s worth of titanium oxide and found that the intestinal cells had a significantly more difficult time in absorbing iron, zinc, and fatty acids.

The study’s author, Professor Gretchen Mahler, who is the Biomedical Engineering Assistant Professor at Binghamton commented on the research, explaining that ingesting titanium dioxide won’t kill you, but advised against consuming “foods rich in titanium oxide nanoparticles” such as “processed foods, and especially candy.”

While the ingredients inside chewing gum aren’t the healthiest, many studies have been conducted on how chewing gum effects other parts of your body. Dermatologists around the world have for years been warning consumers of chewing gum due to the chewing motions altering the overall shape of your face due to the enlargement of the masseter which control your muscles when chewing.

Studies have also found that chewing gum also has the ability to help with an individual’s memory, alertness, and decision-making thought process. Another study carried out in 2002 found that those who chewed gum during a test saw a short-term memory improvement of 24 percent, and a 36 percent improvement when it came to long-term memory. There is also a large sum of evidence to suggest that gum can help reduce stress levels. Aside from that, experts believe that excessive chewing can lead to a jaw issue named temporomandibular disorder. While the disorder isn’t necessarily classed as a serious health concern, it can result in ongoing pain and discomfort that can impact how an individual can eat, drink and sleep at night. Although there’s no evidence showing that chewing gum does not directly help you digest food, there is existing evidence that shows that chewing gum improves the performance of your digestive system by stimulating the flow of saliva in the mouth, which, in turn, promotes easier swallowing and activates the digestive processes, including the flow of bile and other helpful acids and enzymes that digest food.

Besides the muscular and overall skin changes, there isn’t really a whole lot of other things to take into account when deciding whether you really want to continue chewing gum or not. If you’re not worried about developing a few wrinkles here and there because of it, chances are you’ll probably continue chewing your favourite brand of chewing gum in a safe and recommended dose. Although, it is worth noting that researchers warn consumers to be smart about their consumption of the product, portraying caution to those with existing health concerns, a new filler treatment or those with pre-existing wrinkles due to their chewing gum habits.

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