Research from the University of Rhode Island found that chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes three times in the morning meant participants consumed 67 fewer calories at lunch—that’s seven pounds lost over a year. Experts have a variety of theories to explain this: Biting could signal to the brain that the stomach is getting food, or, because the gum tastes sweet, it may satisfy the desire for sweet snacks.
Gum may also help heartburn sufferers. The chewing motion creates extra saliva, which helps wash food or drink through the esophagus (but avoid peppermint flavour; it can worsen heartburn because it relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter and can allow acid backwash).
Even more research shows that gum is good: A study from Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia, found that chewing gum reduces anxiety during stressful situations. “It may have something to do with increased blood flow to the brain,” says Andrew Scholey, a professor at Swinburne’s Brain Sciences Institute.
Next, read about what really happens when you swallow gum.
This article was originally titled “Chewing gum is good for you,” in the March/April 2010 issue of Best Health.