Many of us pop up a piece of gum while working or doing any activity or to cut down our boredom. Though it must be annoying at times to see other's chewing, but for many of us, it can be quite engaging to chew a gum. Some might do it either to deal with bad breath or to cut down their cravings for food. Whatever be the reasons, it is actually very common in both adults and children. Chewing gum in our day to day life is a common habit among masses. Interestingly, this habit has been around with the human race since the ancient time of Stone Age Era. Researches have shown plant extract chewed in the dead remains of many ancient human races. But what exactly are chewing gums? Gums are actually polymeric hydrocarbon derived from naturally found latex. So they are rubbery while chewing and are indigestible. Nevertheless, it is required to be disposed after chewing and not to be swallowed. Since, this chewing gum habit is so common among masses, there is bound to have both good and bad effects on our health. The health effects greatly depend on the contents from which the gum is made.

Chewing gum is made from naturally derived latex. Chicle is the natural latex with which different flavours are mixed to make chewing gums. But nowadays, synthetic gum bases are also used widely to make chewing gum. Whatever be its content, many of us never even bother to give a second thought before popping up a piece of gum in our day to day life. Anything we eat, have an effect on our health, be it positive or negative. But, it is obvious to have more positive effect of this addiction on our health than other harmful addictions like smoking and drinking. The most common reason for chewing a gum is to freshen our breath. Chewing a gum would stimulate lots of saliva which has anti bacterial properties which can help us to stay away from oral gum infections and maintain oral hygiene. But this happens only as long as the chewing gums are sugar free. Therefore, sugar coated gum can lead to tooth decay and cavities in both children and adult if taken largely. Many people do find that chewing gum can act well as an appetite suppressant. As long as we are chewing, it suppresses our hunger temporarily. It also helps to get away our boredom which can often be the reason for snacking. Therefore, it can act as a beneficial tool in losing weight. Studies have found that chewing gum can boost the mental power. As long as we are chewing, we are active and less likely to feel sleepy. That's how it can help us to concentrate on our work or activity that we are doing. Chewing can increase blood flow to the brain which inturn means more oxygen to the brain cells. Therefore, this would result in better memory and concentration till our chewing continues. Chewing a gum can also act as a stress buster and reduces our anxiety level, hence can be boosting to our performance level at work. Chewing gum can relieve us from acid reflex as increase salivation would prevent the upward flow of digestive acids in the oesophagus.

Chewing gum can give some ill effects on our health too. Chewing can have potential negative effect on our digestive process. Normally, digestive process in our body is mainly controlled by both central and autonomic nervous system. Therefore, as a neurological mechanism, while chewing the gum, the brain can be wrongly stimulated as a digestive process and our body would start secreting digestive enzymes which is otherwise release to break down protein and carbohydrate. This can lead to digestive problem like bloating. Chewing can stimulate acid secretion in stomach which can result to gastric ulceration, bruxism (teeth clinching) and erosion of teeth. Chewing on one side of the gum can lead to asymmetry faces, temporomandibular joint and even headache. Sugar coated gums can cause both in children and adult besides dental problem, other issues like weight gain and diabetes. Another important point is that swallowing the gum should be completely avoided as it can be even more dangerous causing oesophageal obstruction, diarrhoea and constipation. Sometimes excessive chewing in mouth can harm our cervical vertebrae which can compensate on our thoracic and lumber vertebrae resulting of squatting of one side of hip or shoulder. Besides these, sugar free gum contains sorbitol, a compound which is a laxative. Chewing a gum would hardly give such an effect as it contains a tiny amount. But if taken in large quantity like 15 -20 pieces a day can lead to abdominal problems like bloating and diarrhoea.

Though this habit of chewing the gum has been there since the olden times, people have discrete opinion regarding the same. Health wise too, there are mixed opinions of people. Studies and researches are still going on with new information at times. Simple habits like this one do make a difference in our day to day life. Sometimes, it gives the instant pleasure or the boost which helps us push through our stressful day. Therefore, such habit is usually harmless rather than other harmful habits of smoking, drinking or binging. As long as it is a simple habit within our control, it is quite hurt less but too much of such habit if turned out to be addiction can be negative at times.

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An experienced Medical Professional enthuiastic in writing on health related issues.