chewing gum

The Impact of Chewing Gum On Your Health and Environment

Chewing gum on health and environment

Photo by Charles Wright on Unsplash

Chewing gum seems harmless, especially since most people use it to mask the smell of an overpowering lunch or take the edge off before doing something stressful. Unfortunately, chewing gum isn’t as harmless as it seems — not only does it impact your health, but it affects the environment too.

How Gum Affects Your Health

One small piece of gum can do a lot of damage to your body. Irritable bowel syndrome affects 45 million people annually and two out of three people affected are women. People suffering from IBS especially need to steer clear of gum, whether sugarless or not. This is because sugar alcohols, acting as artificial sweeteners, can have the same effects as laxatives and cause digestive distress.

Along with worsening IBS, gum worsens indigestion symptoms. If you feel nauseated, or have an upset stomach, you may reach for gum to ease your discomfort. Over time, you swallow small amounts of air that fill your belly with gas, leading to bloating and making it feel worse than before. Besides stomach issues, gum affects other areas of your body, too.

Ruins Your Teeth

Like starchy and sugary food, gum feeds oral bacteria that form plaque on your teeth, which risks tooth decay. Sweeteners in gum can lead to acid attacks on the teeth, similar to when you eat candy. The chewing motion can impact your enamel. If you have dental work, gum can risk damaging it since the stickiness creates friction and pulls on fillings.

Gives You Headaches

Constantly moving your jaw can increase the chances of getting a tension headache. If you deal with migraines or frequent headaches, chewing gum can trigger them to come on. Stressors and anxiety already do their part in causing headaches, so it’s best to stay away from gum to avoid the chance of inducing a headache.

Causes Jaw Problems

Chewing gum too often can increase the prevalence of temporomandibular joint dysfunction. This is when jaw joints around the muscles experience severe pain when you move your jaw from its natural alignment. It will cause pain when laughing, chewing and anything that relates to moving your mouth.

Gum and the Environment 

As you go down a sidewalk, you’ll almost surely pass a piece of old gum cemented to the ground. This is because gum is difficult to break down — after all, it’s made of synthetic rubber and polyvinyl acetate. Synthetic rubber is used for car tires and polyvinyl acetate is used to make glue (doesn’t sound too tasty, does it?), so it makes sense it stays around for a while after you’re done chewing it.

When you recycle gum, it does many positive things like conserving energy, saving natural habits, cleaning oceans and more. Gum is one of the most significant sources of litter. Some chewing gum recycling projects are making an impact and turning gum waste into other things like doorstoppers. If you continue to chew gum, do it responsibly and see how you can get involved with recycling it.

If you can’t kick your gum habit, look for eco-friendly chewing gum brands that are biodegradable and have natural ingredients. Search for vegan, plastic-free and gluten-free options, then ensure it uses elastic rubber with minimal ingredients. You should take these precautions to keep the streets clean and help the environment. It’ll be beneficial to you, as well.

Reconsider Your Sticky Snack

Next time you think about popping a stick of gum in your mouth, remember these things. It will affect your health and, if not chosen and discarded with consideration, it will harm your body and the planet. It is best to eliminate this habit so you and the environment don’t experience adverse effects.

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