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Does Chewing Gum Have An Effect On Weight?

Posted Sep 29 2008 5:54pm

I had this thought yesterday as I was sitting in a department meeting watching the secretary chew her gum like a cow strung out on crystal meth. 

 We’ve been rolling this concept around in the blog that it isn’t just food that stimulates weight gain from the secretion of insulin as a result of sugar in the blood.  Taubes’ book, Good Calories, Bad Calories mentioned insulin secretion as a response to sensitory triggers prior to actual ingestion of food, essentially meaning that smelling, tasting, seeing, or even thinking about eating can cause your pancreas to jump the gun.  LCC recently cited an article claiming that artificial sweeteners can have a negative effect on weight loss, and though the article didn’t specifically say there was a measured increase in insulin following the use of artificial sweeteners in the test subjects, there were mentions of links to metabolic syndrome and confusion of the system as to assessment of calorie intake.

I remember reading quite some time ago that chewing gum is actually bad for you because one of the things the body does in response to eating is to have the stomach secrete digestive acids.  However, if you don’t have any actual food in your stomach for the acids to work on, guess what?  It goes after your stomach lining. 

Personally, I never really saw any attraction in chewing gum.   It’s one of those things, like smoking, that has no actual purpose, yet someone developed the products, got their use into mainstream society, and here we are with ingrained habitual use of purposeless, and in some cases dangerous, articles.  I’ve watched people who chew gum, and they tend to have this kind of blank stare thing going on, as if their mind is being anesthetized.  They don’t seem to have knowledge or conscious control of what’s going on between the nose and the chin, it just happens automatically (even to the point where some of them blow bubbles and pop them without realizing it, like the secretary I mentioned earlier). 

Many years back, I read a book about self-improvement, and I was able to overcome many of my own little habits that I never even recognized until they were pointed out.  There’s an underlying nervousness in people who have to fidget and be otherwise occupied physically instead of just maintaining a calm demeanor, but if one can recognize and then work toward controlling those impulses, they can be eliminated from one’s behavior.  Chewing gum is one indication of this nervousness, and if you’re observant, you’ll probably notice other nervous habits of chewers, like pen-cap-snapping, foot tapping, and more.  In case you’re a chewer, or someone who has some other habits of nervousness, please believe I’m not trying to be judgmental here, just pointing out that these things are engaged in for a reason, and whatever that underlying reason is, you can become a more relaxed person by self-realization and self-moderation.  And now, we return you to our regularly scheduled blog post, already in progress.

Anyway, I got to thinking, on top of the gastric acid production, wouldn’t the act of chewing gum also stimulate insulin secretion, and as a result, weight gain?  It shouldn’t even matter whether the gum is naturally or artificially sweetened, since it would be the act of chewing that provided the impetus for the release.

I did a quick Google on it, and surprisingly found an article  right off the bat that said quite the opposite of my supposition, and for quite a different reason: dangerous weight loss from chronic diarrhea resulting from the ingestion of sorbitol (a sugar alcohol, used in many chewing gums, that has a laxative effect).  You have to chew a lot of gum daily for this effect to happen, and many low carbers who have eaten more than their fair share of sugar free products containing sugar alcohols can attest to the associated laxative issues. 

There wasn’t one link that I could find that said anything other than weight loss associated with chewing gum, and most of those pointed to the diarrhea issue.  So I guess I can’t propose to the chewers that their habit is sabotaging their weight loss plans.  Darn!

Filed under: Books, External Links, Food, Megamas, Mindset, News, general health

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