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Chewing Gum After Meals is Not a Good Idea

A study that followed 12 people with gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, and 24 healthy volunteers found that acid levels after a meal were reduced both by walking and by gum chewing. Several of our readers were concerned that this conflicted with advice I have given regarding chewing gum. I posted this story as an interesting demonstration of how the media can manipulate things for their benefit. The first blaring item that stands out is that the news story on MSN is sponsored by Nexium, which is well-noted for its deceptive practices.

When one looks at the study it is obvious this is a small-time project as it only looked at a dozen people. While the point of the study likely has some validity it is obscured with untruths. Most people do not chew anywhere near what they need to as 90 percent of their diet is processed foods. When one does not eat raw vegetables in any great quantity their chewing decreases. What the study fails to do is compare a person eating a healthy diet with one eating the standard American, highly processed diet. So while there is some short-term benefit from chewing gum, it would be far wiser to avoid the gum and chew healthy food instead.

So what are the downsides of chewing gum? The first issue is that most people will chew the gum far longer than needed. Once that is done their stomachs are fooled and they will continue to needlessly secrete digestive enzymes into their stomach when there is no food to digest. This is due to a complex neurological connection between the jaw and the stomach. Most people have mercury/silver fillings, and chewing gum has been well documented to release more mercury from the fillings. Lastly there is the issue of consuming unnecessary sweeteners in the gum, either sugar or artificial sweeteners.

So the bottom line is avoid chewing gum, but if you have GERD you can consider it as a simple, inexpensive Band-Aid that is nowhere near as good as treatments that address the cause.

MSN News November 17, 2003

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