Chewing gum for concentration: Friend or foe?

Posted: 20 May, 2016

By: Annemarie Lombard

Section: Wellness

Chewing gum friend or foe

I love gum! To the disgrace of my husband and many teachers in school systems that I suggest they use it…. Gum is a habit frowned upon by many but is getting way too much flack. It is a cheap, easy and effective way to get the brain more alert and make children and people more focused. And yes, it really does boost concentration levels. How does it work?

Firstly, the mouth is one of the most fundamental and powerful ways to calm and organize the brain. How do babies self-calm? By sucking and/or bringing things to the mouth. Smokers and over-eaters: are you not doing the same? Although bad habits, they still utilize the mouth for self-regulation purposes. Nicotine and food are added to the equation, but the mouth plays a huge role. Also when smokers quit, it is common knowledge that they tend to overeat afterwards. It is trying to replicate the mouth action with an alternative.

Secondly, mouth actions (sucking, chewing, grinding, and blowing) will utilize the muscles in the mouth, tongue and jaw area. When muscles move, the brain receives proprioceptive messages which are known to regulate the brain. Exercise and physical activity have been proven over and over to boost concentration, health and brain function!  And exercise consists of proprioception as the main sensory ingredient!

I found the reference to this study very interesting, http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/R-D/Chewing-gum-is-a-cheap-way-to-help-stay-alert-Study.  It talks about the impact of chewing on brain function but they are missing the oral-proprioceptive link. And I believe this to be the biggest contributor to healthy self-regulation.

So keep on chewing – but keep it healthy, close your mouth and dispose of it properly (that means a garbage bin)!!
Are there any gum providers out there who’ll take on the challenge of making healthy gum, without sugars and other artificial junk?