Is Gum Sabotaging Your Health?
Do you love chewing gum? I know I do.
More recently I stopped this habit, though. While the ADA may make a claim that it helps prevent cavities (arguably because of the addition of xylitol and that chewing gum helps pull food out of your teeth) it could be doing us more harm than good everywhere else in the body.
Aside from all those reasons, chewing gum stimulates saliva making you less apt to recognize thirst signals. I used to chew gum when working out and realized I drank far less water as a result. Those who really know me understand my role as the "Hydration Lady" because I'm so serious about adequate hydration. OK, so just one person actually called me that.
The chemical cocktail that many gums use to make their product tasty and sweet contain so many damaging artificial sweeteners all rolled into a single piece that it's mind-blowing.
This gum used to be my favorite (not the grape, but the peppermint). All their flavors contain the same mixture of sweeteners. Look carefully at this packaging and see how many artificial ingredients you can find:
Ok, so I didn't bother to count but it's pretty much all of them except for the gelatin.
Now, not all gum has the same ingredient list, but you will find these artificial sweeteners in some combination just about guaranteed.
Why are artificial sweeteners bad for you?
Fake sweeteners damage your body by tricking it into thinking you're about to eat something naturally sweet. Your taste buds perceive sweetness and the body reacts by increasing appetite and stimulates cravings for carbohydrates (to which you will likely not satisfy by eating more carrots). With an increased appetite and craving for carbs, weight gain is inevitable.
Many of these sweeteners raise insulin levels. This overworks your pancreas, causing it to pump out insulin to combat the expected glucose spike. Insulin is best known as a storage hormone because it drives glucose into cells. Most of these sweeteners do not actually have a direct impact on blood sugar, which means the body is sending out those insulin troops for nothing. Again, this is detrimental for anyone seeking to lose weight.
Worse yet, these sweeteners have damaging side effects, ranging from kidney problems to altering your gut bacteria to being carcinogenic (cancer-causing). All in the name of fresher breath or to cure your need to chew on something.
Can you believe all the artificial sweeteners in just ONE piece of gum??!!
Check out this list!
Xylitol: A sugar alcohol associated with gastrointestinal issues, this sweetener has a positive side effect of preventing harmful bacterial growth on the teeth, thus supporting dental health.
Maltitol: Associated with stomach and abdominal pain, this sugar alcohol may cause diarrhea, bloating or gas.
Mannitol: A known diuretic, this sugar substitute is said to be eliminated from the body before it can be metabolized.
Maltodextrin: Made from any starch (but usually genetically modified corn because it's so cheap), this common sweetener will definitely raise your blood sugar. It alters your gut microbiome by limiting the growth of healthy bacteria, and may cause an allergic reaction. Not surprisingly, it also has zero nutritional value.
Aspartame: Found in sodas and "sugar free" foods, this sweetener is known to be carcinogenic, especially when heated. Over 90 side effects are linked to aspartame and include nausea, breathing difficulties, joint pain, vision problems, memory loss, anxiety attacks numbness and heart palpitations, just to name a few.
Acesulfame potassium: Also known as Ace-K, acesulfame potassium is very popular in a number of foods. It acts directly on the pancreas to stimulate insulin release in the absence of raising blood sugar. Ace-K may also raise triglycerides, lead to increased body weight and raise small dense LDL particles associated with vascular disease.
Sorbitol: A sugar alcohol which can cause gastrointestinal distress.
Neotame: Based on the same formula as aspartame, this insidious sweetener is dubbed "aspartame on steroids" by Dr. Mercola. It's also used in the cattle feed to fatten them up. See above list of aspartame side effects and steer clear.
*BHT: Not a sweetener, BHT stands for butylated hydroxytoluene and is a chemical preservative added to many food to prevent oxidation (spoilage). According to WebMD, the levels in food are safe. I'm still skeptical.
Have you checked the label on your favorite gum? Decide for yourself if these potential side effects are worth it. Unfortunately I have yet to find one that is "clean" meaning it doesn't contain some or all of these ingredients AND is enjoyable to chew. Do you have a recommendation? Comment and let us know!! :)
The effect of artificial sweetener on insulin secretion. II. Stimulation of insulin release from isolated rat islets by Acesulfame K (in vitro experiments). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2887503
Nally, Adam S., Moore, Jimmy. The Keto Cure: A Low-Carb, High-Fat Dietary Solution to Heal Your Body & Optimize Your Health; pp. 143-148. Victory Belt, 2018