Up until WWII, chewing gum was made out of a rubbery material called “chicle.” It’s a latex sap that is seeped out of a sapodilla tree. This is also the same material that still makes rubber bands. Just like rubber bands, chewing gum doesn’t dissolve after chewing it. Chicle does get softer after a mix of warmth and saliva, which makes it edible but not digestible.
The history of gum dates back to the Neolithic period, where our ancestors used birch bark tar in Finland. This tar was believed to have antiseptic properties and other medical benefits – and was later remade by the Aztecs who used chicle because they didn’t have access to tar. The Ancient Greeks chewed gum to maintain oral health, and this sparked the industry of chewing gum. It wasn’t until after WWII that the health industry declared that this tar was doing the opposite of teeth cleaning. When the war ended, chemists learned how to make better replacements of chicle and tar, which is: aspartame, butylated hydroxytoluene, calcium casein peptone, acesulfame and titanium dioxide. These new, discovered ingredients don’t increase tooth decay, but doesn’t necessarily help our teeth either.
So, what’s the point of gum now that it’s been proven to not benefit our teeth? It increases the flow of saliva, therefore reducing plaque acid and strengthening your jaw movement. Although gum doesn’t necessarily clean our teeth, it helps with everyday functions we don’t notice because it’s involuntary. Chewing gum also tricks your mind into thinking you ate something! According to Buzzfeed.com, those who end up chewing gum are most likely to eat less during the day. Don’t depend on it to lose weight, but if you are trying to cut down on junk food or unnecessary snacks other than your regular meals, chew gum as a distraction – it definitely helps me.
United Kingdom psychologists also claim that chewing gum improves memory. They found that people who chewed gum while studying, and chewed the same gum while taking the quiz or test they were studying for were more likely to remember what they studied short-term. If you’re like me and don’t really care for how much sugar is in gum, try this out! The next time you’re studying, chew your favorite kind of gum brand and chew that same gum while you’re taking that test. Maybe it’ll work for you too!