You can find it in any gas station, supermarket, video store or vending machine. You can also find it on sidewalks and telephone poles, under chairs and used to hang dorm room posters. What is this sticky substance? Chewing gum.
While gum might not exactly be food, Wrigley and the National Association of Chewing Gum Manufacturers estimate that Americans chew about 100,000 tons of gum each year. That’s about 100,000 small cars filled with A.B.C. gum. Yum. Here are some juicy facts about gum for you to chew on.
Gum has been around for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks, Mayans and North American Indians all chewed the resins and saps of different trees from their locale. According to Wrigley’s, the chewing gum we are familiar with came on the market in the late 19th century. Dentists were the first fans of chewing gum. They advised their patients to chew for jaw exercise and gum stimulation.
Since then, the gum industry has exploded. Flavors of gum now range from mint to bacon, and there is gum specially made to whiten teeth, be braces-friendly, and to calm upset stomachs. Speaking of stomachs, what happens to gum when you swallow it? Does it really stay in your system for seven years?
In the unfortunate instance when gum ends up going down your throat, it will be digested mostly as regular food. The synthetic chemicals that are used in modern gum aren’t particularly good for your system, but gum will pass through just like everything else. That being said, there are reports of children swallowing massive amounts of gum and dealing with some sticky consequences. So when your gum’s flavor comes to an end, look for a trashcan instead.
Studies have recently shown that chewing gum is actually very beneficial to our health. Not only does it deter bad breath (cinnamon-flavored is best), but the saliva stimulated by the chewing process also helps reduce tooth decay. Gum is a good go-to for people who are trying to lose weight and people who are trying to quit smoking. The chewing motion is a good distraction for those who would usually reach for a cookie or a cigarette.
Research has also shown that chewing gum is good for your mind. Study participants who chewed gum were more mentally alert and better at cognitive tasks than non-chewers. Don’t go all Violet Beauregarde (the blueberry girl from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) on us, but next time you pop in a stick of gum, relish its history and healthiness along with its taste.