How Chewing Gum Helps Memory and Weight Loss
Approximately 100,000 tons of chewing gum are consumed every year, and each person chews an average of 300 sticks of gum annually. All that chewing may help your memory, according to a new study, while previous research indicates chewing gum may also help with weight loss. So grab a stick of gum and read on.
Chewing gum helps memory and your brain
Whether your favorite chewing gum is peppermint, a fruity flavor, or packs a spicy kick, popping it into your mouth and chewing can improve several areas of brain function. In a new study from Cardiff University, researchers found that individuals who chewed bum were better able to complete a 30-minute task involving the detection of odd-even-odd numbers (e.g., 9-4-3) than study participants who did not chew gum during the task.
Specifically, the participants who chewed gum demonstrated better concentration, especially toward the end of the task, and also had faster reaction times and more accurate responses than their peers who did not chew gum. The study’s lead author, Kate Morgan, noted that while participants who did not chew gum did slightly better at the beginning of the exercise, the gum chewers excelled toward the end.
“This suggests that chewing gum helps us focus on tasks that require continuous monitoring over a longer amount of time,” she commented.
How chewing gum helps memory
Another new study, appearing in Brain and Cognition, offers an explanation as to how chewing gum helps memory. A team of Japanese researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study brain function in 17 healthy adults while they performed an attention task and were chewing gum.
The fMRI analysis revealed higher levels of activity in certain areas of the brain (i.e., anterior cingulate cortex and left frontal gyrus) during gum chewing. They reported that “these results suggested that chewing induced an increase in the arousal level and alertness in addition to an effect on motor control and, as a consequence, these effects could lead to improvements in cognitive performance.”
Chewing gum and weight loss
This study is not the first to find that chewing gum provides some health benefits. Chewing gum may also help you lose weight. Although chewing gum burns only about 11 calories per hour, 8 hours of gum chewing per day for one month could help you drop close to one pound. How?
Do the math: 11 calories x 8 hours per day = 88 calories per day burned. Multiply 88 by 30 days for 2,640 calories. It takes 3,500 calories burned to lose one pound. Although this is not a fast way to lose weight, chewing gum does have the added benefit of improving brain power.
However, there are more weight loss benefits associated with chewing gum. A University of Leeds study found that chewing gum suppressed appetite, reduced people’s cravings for salty and sweet snacks, and promoted a feeling of fullness.
In an earlier study published in Appetite, a research team examined the impact of chewing gum on appetite and snacking behaviors in 40 women and 20 men. Overall, chewing gum reduced the number of calories the participants consumed by 36, and the gum chewers also said they had less desire to eat sweet foods (but not salty ones) and felt less hungry between lunch and snack time than did participants who did not chew gum.
Thus, it appears that chewing gum can help both your memory and your weight loss efforts, so you may want to partake of some of the estimated 374 trillion sticks of chewing gum manufactured every year.
Hetherington MM, Boyland E. Short-term effects of chewing gum on snack intake and appetite. Appetite 2007May; 48(3): 397-401
Hetherington MM, Regan MF. Effects of chewing gum on short-term appetite regulation in moderately restrained eaters. Appetite 2011 Oct; 57(2): 475-82
Hirano Y et al. Effects of chewing on cognitive processing speed. Brain and Cognition 2013 Apr; 81(3): 375-81
Morgan K et al. Chewing gum moderates the vigilance decrement. British Journal of Psychology 2013 Mar 8. DOI:10.1111/bjop.12025
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