gum

Once upon a time, I chewed a pack of GUM every day.

{Yes, every day!!}

How, you ask?

The habit probably began when I was dabbling in Weight Watchers and calorie counting. You know, a stick of gum can really kill a craving…

Or, so they say.

For me, the craving only continued to grow (now, I understand why!). When I went into sales, the habit tipped to a full pack a day.

I officially became a chain chewer.

Never mind that I was spending ungodly amounts of money on gum each week, and grinding my jaw into the ground…

There was nothing like being on the open road 4 – 6 hours a day and being able to CHEW. Chew away the stress. Chew away the time.

It also supposedly helped me to be alert (source), and according to Wrigley gum:

“…20 minutes after eating or drinking can help protect your teeth… In addition… sugar-free gum can provide a way to help manage your calories…”

Well, there may or may not be a third party agenda when it comes to their research… just sayin’.

Obviously, this whole gum chewing habit of mine was completely oblivious to me as a problem. Somehow, my whole quest for eating chemical-free, nutrient-dense whole foods hadn’t yet connected the dots with gum.

The Moment of Truth

And then, it happened.

I was checking out of a grocery store one day, when I noticed a small label below the row of my favorite pack of Orbit Sweet Mint gum.

It read, ‘This is not a gluten-free food.’

Now, you know how I feel about gluten. What the heck!?? Gum has…*gasp*…gluten in it?

I grabbed the pack of gum and hurriedly scanned the ingredients, awkwardly holding up the grocery check-out line personnel.

And there it was…

Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate: According to Celiac.com, it “… can [contain] a gluten-containing grain or by-product in the manufacturing process, or as an ingredient.”

Knowing that I had just opened up a can of worms forever, I continued reading the FOURTEEN ingredients on the back…

Source: Foodbabe.com

Source: Foodbabe.com

Sorbitol: As the #1 ingredient, this sugar alcohol can wreak havoc on the eyes, nerves and kidneys of those with diabetes. It also can build up in the body because it takes a while for the body to rid of, and depletes the body of essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and amino acids (source). Lovely, people.

Gum Base: This is a non-nutritive, non-digestible base consisting of a whole lot of waxes, fillers, emulsifiers, and other junk ingredients unknown to the body (source). Hmm.

Glycerol: A naturally occurring chemical. (Does that sound natural to you!?) It attracts water to the gut, softening stools and relieving constipation. (A laxative!?) Side effects include headaches, dizziness, bloating, nausea, vomiting, thirst, and diarrhea (source).

Natural and artificial flavors: Both are made in a lab by a ‘trained professional,’ who uses “natural” chemicals to make natural flavorings and “synthetic” chemicals to make artificial flavorings (source). Translation? Sounds suspect.

Aspartame-Acesulfame: A low calorie sweetener containing ionically bound aspartame and acesulfame, and 30 times sweeter than sugar (source). Not only does this drive you to an increased appetite and cravings; it causes weight gain in adults and kids (source). Aspartame accounts for over 75% of the adverse reactions to food additives reported by the FDA, and is linked to brain tumors, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and other serious issues (source)…

Aspartame: See above.

Mannitol: This is a sugar alcohol manufactured from cornstarch, and we all know that corn is 88% genetically modified. Side effects include bloating and diarrhea, diabetes, and even weight gain (source).

Acesulfame K: As a low calorie sweetener, this is 150-200 times sweeter than sugar, and known to increase insulin release and thyroid tumors (Carlton & Carlton, 2013). 🙁

Soy Lecithin: An emulsifier, which helps keep the gum from separating. As a derivative of soy, which is 93% genetically modified in the U.S. and a common allergen, this is a highly toxic, inflammatory ingredient. It is made from soy oil, which is made through a chemical process using hexane (source). ICK.

Xylitol – Another sugar alcohol. See mannitol. 

BHT (to maintain freshness): Known as butylated hydroxytoluene, this is manufactured from petroleum and acts as a preservative. This is banned in many European countries and and linked to cancer (Carlton & Carlton, 2013).

Colors (Beta-carotene, Blue 1 lake): Artificial colors come from coal tar, and are banned in numerous European countries because they are linked to behavioral disturbances and neurotoxic activity. (Especially in children!!!)

Phenylalanine: Aspartame contains the amino acid phenylalanine, so people with the rare genetic disorder phenylketonuria cannot metabolize this amino acid.

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I mean, no words, right!?

I horridly put the pack of gum down, and thought about how many of these toxic pieces I had chewed and accumulated in my body over the past few years.

I was disgusted, completely disgusted.

In a just few minutes’ time, this innocent chewing gum that I had grown to love became a toxic agent that did not DESERVE to be in my life anymore.

So, I quit.

I no longer chew gum. My jaw and I feel a lot better because of it, too.

What does one do, then, for fresh breath without gum? Here’s what I do…

4 Natural Breath Fresheners

1) Drink (lemon or lime) water. Try it! A few gulps washes away the bad taste, especially if you add lovely antioxidants like lemon or lime. These are fantastic natural cleaning agents, by the way!

2) Chew on ginger! This is my favorite! Ginger soothes the mucosal lining of the esophagus and stomach, aids in digestion, and delivers anti-inflammatory benefits to the whole body. {Plus, it freshens breath.} Typically, I cut up a small slice and chew on it until it’s soft. You can swallow or spit it out depending on your preference.

3) Chew on peppermint (or other herbs)! Buy an herbal plant or two at the farmers market and keep it in your kitchen! Peppermint, of course, is known for fresh breath, but you could chew on any herb – basil, parsley, cilantro, etc. Break off a leaf or two when in need – it will taste good and boost your health, too.

4) Brush and floss your teeth. Avoid the fluoride versions, though. We like the Tom’s brand.

Update

We now use EarthPaste due to very questionable ingredients in Tom’s like carrageenan and sodium lauryl sulfate.

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Trust me, there are better ways to handle stress or cravings than gum. (Can you name a few!?) 🙂 Hopefully, you’ve already gotten the memo, but if you haven’t, I hope this inspires you to seek healthier alternatives!!

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References

Carlton, Jayson and Mira Carlton. Rich Food, Poor Food. Malibu, CA: Primal Blueprint Publishing, 2013.