If you like gum, this post is for you. If you like to blow and pop bubbles with your gum, sadly you’ll need to leave that life behind because the type of gum I am going to share with you doesn’t have those magical powers, but it is still gum. Real gum. Do you know what that means?
Before I get into this post I want to stress that the act of chewing gum can cause you to swallow more air which can create gas. However knowing my readers and social media followers really well, many of you still want gum and ask me about it often. I’ve found something for you and I actually like it too.
First a little about you. You need to chew a little gum here and there. Maybe to use after you eat when you can’t get to the sink to brush your teeth, maybe before meeting someone new, maybe to stave off a craving (which doesn’t actually work, it can make cravings worse) or maybe unfortunately because you are stressed (which is the worst time to chew gum).
What’s In Your Chewing Gum? Why Should You Care?
Now a little about the gum you’re most likely chewing and have been chomping on for years and years. Here is a list of the most common and potentially dangerous ingredients found in most chewing gums today:
- Aspartame – it is an artificial, non-saccharide sweetener used as a sugar substitute in gum, some foods and beverages. It’s much sweeter than sugar (only a little is needed) and cheaper as well which is probably why it’s used. There is still no conclusive evidence over aspartame’s possible long-term negative effects, however, it’s artificial and the fact that it does cause controversy might be reason enough to avoid it, don’t you think?
- BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) – is a toluene-based ingredient and used as a preservative in gum, food and personal care products. It is banned in some other countries but it’s still used here in the U.S. and has been linked to organ system toxicity (non-reproductive). The European Food Safety Authority has cited it as a “known human immune toxicant or allergen.” So tell me again why is this stuff still in our food and products?
- Calcium Casein Peptone (Calcium Phosphate) – this is a highly processed milk derivative used as a texturizer/whitening agent. It’s mostly used in Trident gum, the same gum my Mother and I chewed for years…
- Gum was once made with the latex sap (chicle) of the sapodilla tree or other tree saps. Now most gum bases are made of plasticizers, elastomers, fillers and resins, also known as polyvinyl acetate (carpenter’s glue), petroleum-derived paraffin wax, and talc (absorbs moisture, anti-caking agent, bulking agent), a known carcinogen that has been linked to ovarian cancer and tumors in the lungs.
- Titanium Oxide – “a possible carcinogenic to humans based on sufficient evidence in experimental animals and inadequate evidence from epidemiological studies.” In chewing gum, it is often used as a whitening agent and may be linked to autoimmune disorders, asthma, and Crohn’s disease.
- Sugar alcohols (polyols) – yes there are “natural brands” that make “safer” gums with sugar alcohols to make them sugar-free, but if you are prone to IBS and are also following the low-FODMAP diet, you know that sugar alcohols can trigger intestinal discomfort – gas, bloating, or diarrhea if you consume too much. Wrigley shares the types of sugar alcohols and some other ingredients it uses on their website: “Several types of high-intensity sweeteners are used in Wrigley’s sugar-free products and as flavor enhancers in some other brands. These artificial sweeteners deliver long-lasting, noncaloric taste and do not promote tooth-decay.
- Acesulfame K
OK so you don’t really eat gum, so what’s the problem anyway? Consider what Thomas Corriher’s article on Healthwyze.org says: “the assumption is that if the gum is not swallowed, then the ingredients should not be a concern. However, the ingredients in gum travel into the blood stream faster and in higher concentrations than food ingredients, because they absorb directly through the walls of the mouth, and these ingredients do not undergo the normal filtration process of digestion.”
Now for a Natural Gum That’s Low in FODMAPs
Yes a better gum does exist, but again, if you purchase this brand, consider not gnawing through the whole package. The pieces of gum are smaller than most gums you are used to, so that’s probably better for all of you with IBS! If you really need to have some gum, have a little bit at a time and chew slow and with your mouth closed. I am not condoning gum chewing, I am simply giving you an option!
I really like Simply Gum for a couple of reasons. First it’s made with a natural chicle base – remember, the original gum base? The gum base that’s also been around for thousands of years (people have been chewing gum for a long time!). Also they do not use sugar alcohols. Here are the other ingredients:
- Organic Raw Cane Sugar
- Organic Vegetable Glycerin
- Organic Soy Lecithin
- Organic Rice Flour
- Natural Flavor – like mint, cinnamon, maple, ginger, coffee and fennel licorice – all low-FODMAP flavors!
And what does Simply Gum have to say about gum in general? “The regular chewing gum you see on grocery store shelves is filled with artificial substances, including some of the same components used in the manufacture of car tires, plastic bottles, and white glue, as well as artificial sweeteners like aspartame….Consumers are kept in the dark about what they are chewing because the FDA allows conventional gum brands to hide up to 80 synthetic ingredients in the catch-all term ‘gum base’ on the label. Although there are a few gum brands in the US market claiming to be ‘natural,’ all of them include synthetics in their base. We knew we could do better.” And better they did! Try them out and let me know what you think. Here is where you can find them in stores. Or you can buy them online here:
*Please note – this product has not been formerly tested and analyzed for its FODMAP content, however the ingredients used are low in FODMAPs which may make it suitable for most to consume.
Be good to yourself and your gut!