In yet another study touting the benefits of chewing gum, researchers suggest it may boost academic performance in teens. But, some doctors warn we should be wary of all this Wrigley's-funded research.
Researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine studied 108 eight-grade math students for 14 weeks. One group chewed gum while doing homework and taking tests and the other group did not chew at all. The gum-chewing group saw a 3% increase in their test scores, while the scores of the non-chewing group stayed the same.
But some scientists say schools shouldn't start lifting their gum bans yet. "The only reason to do these studies is to sell more gum," warns Marion Nestle, Ph.D., a nutritionist at New York University. "Sponsored studies almost invariably produce results favorable to the economic interests of the sponsor. [They] are always designed in ways that fail to control for alternative explanations for the results."
Still, there is independent research that shows gum chewing may be good for your health. The American Dental Association says that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay because the saliva produced by chewing can help wash away acids and bacteria. It may also help reduce the symptoms of acid reflux disease, and increase the flow of blood to the brain.
"Overall gum chewing is more beneficial than it is harmful," says Dr. Michael Benninger, chairman of the Head and Neck Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. "There are people who probably shouldn't chew gum such as people with Temporomandibular Joint and Muscle Disorders, or TMJ, people with chronic tension headaches or if you grind your teeth at night," but he adds, "This isn't like smoking. The downsides are minimal."