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9 Interesting Facts About Chewing Gum That You Need To Know

Updated on January 13, 2017

1. Chewing gum has a long history

The world’s oldest piece of chewing gum is 9,000 years old. Archeologists in the Swedish island of Orust have discovered three lumps of 9,000-year-old chewed birch resin, with bite impressions suggesting that most of the chewers were kids aged 6 to 15.

2. Relieves heartburn

Heartburn is caused by acidic stomach fluids splashing up into your esophagus (food pipe). Chewing gum stimulates saliva production, which dilutes and flushes out the stomach acid and neutralize it.

3. Keeps you from crying when cutting onions

Onions produce the chemical irritant known as syn-propanethial-S-oxide. It stimulates the eyes' lachrymal glands so they release tears. Chewing gum while cutting onions forces you to breathe through your mouth, which should disperse the irritant so that a significantly smaller amount reaches the lachrymal glands, preventing them from being irritated enough to release tears.

4. Improves test scores

Recent research has found that students who chewed gum for five minutes before taking a test did better on the test than non-gum-chewing students. This is because the chewing warms up the brain, something gum researchers refer to as "mastication-induced arousal." This arousal turns the brain on and increases heart rate, blood pressure, and cerebral blood flow, and that those changes persist for 15 to 20 minutes afterwards,

5. Reduces tooth decay

Studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay. The physical act of chewing increases the flow of saliva in your mouth, which washes away food particles and neutralizes the acids in plaque which feed bacteria that cause tooth decay.

6. Relieves stress

A 2008 study from Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia, found that chewing gum reliably reduces stress, increases alertness and improves overall performance.

7. Swallowing gum is not as harmful as once thought to be

You might have heard the myth that swallowing a piece of gum will make it stay in your body for 7 years. But this isn't true. However gum isn’t the most easily digested food. Some of the components, such as sweeteners, are broken down, but the gum's base which is a mixture of resins, elastomers, and waxes is largely indigestible. That doesn’t mean it stays inside your stomach, it moves relatively intact through your digestive system and is excreted in your stool.

8. Fights ear infections

In a Finnish study, children who chewed gum containing xylitol were 25 percent less likely to develop acute ear infections. Xylitol is a natural sugar substitute comes from birch trees, strawberries, raspberries and plums. Scientists found that xylitol could inhibit the growth of bacteria responsible for many ear infections.

9. Speeds recovery from abdominal surgery

Researchers have found that chewing gum can help the intestines to return to its normal function quicker. They believe chewing gum may stimulate the same nerves as eating, which, in turn, release hormones that activate the gastrointestinal tract.

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