I love gum as much as the next guy, but do you know what I don’t love? Chewing on plastic!
Most chewing gums on the market are made from something called “gum base,” which is a nice way of saying “plastic” unless otherwise specified on the label.
Not only that, but your average chewing gum also contains a mixture of preservatives, artificial dyes, flavors, and nonnutritive sweeteners that can potentially cause damage to our cells and gut microbiome.
So what’s a chewing-gum lover to do?
In today’s newsletter, I’m giving you my list of the top problem-causing ingredients in chewing gums and how to spot a cleaner alternative.
Before we jump in, just a quick note!
Quick Rant about Health Priorities:
Like I’ve said before, and this holds true for all of my other Try This swaps, having awareness and doing the best we can to reduce our exposure to potentially harmful ingredients is good enough.
We don’t want to make a big deal out of something in our lives that’s as small as a piece of chewing gum. Even just entertaining the ingredients in chewing gum is no doubt a first-world problem. There are a lot of other, more important things on our plates that we need to give love and attention to.
That being said, it’s okay to make upgrades and choose better products if we understand where it fits in the hierarchy of things.
If you’re someone who pops chewing gum into your mouth on a regular basis, leveling up your gum game could help protect your health in the long run.
Drinking tea is one of my favorite ways to get more polyphenols into my diet. Pique is my go-to brand for maximum quality and flavor.
Pique’s Sun Goddess Matcha is a polyphenol powerhouse that supports gut health, curbs sugar cravings, and gives me calm, zen-like focus and energy that helps me tackle even my busiest days.
Pique’s newest tea, Holi Hoji is the perfect after-dinner treat. It is low-caffeine, and it supports digestion, so I can enjoy sipping on a cup in the evening without disrupting my sleep. The warm toasty flavor is perfect for the holidays.
All of Pique’s teas are Triple Toxin Screened for purity and optimized for absorption, so you can trust you’re getting the best. Right now, you can give yourself and your loved ones the gift of the perfect dinner digestif tea that you drink from day to night.
Let’s jump in!
The Problem Ingredients in Chewing Gum
When you’re shopping for chewing gum, keep an eye out for these problem-causing ingredients:
- “Gum base:” You’ll see “gum base” listed on most chewing-gum labels. This is an FDA-approved “catchall” term that manufacturers use to encompass ingredients like polyethylene and polyvinyl acetate (the same materials used to make plastic bottles and shopping bags 😬😬😬). This is a little alarming since chewing these materials can release microplastics that interfere with our hormonal health and create oxidative stress. Chewing a piece of gum here or there isn’t a big deal, but over a lifetime, that ingestion of microplastics adds up!
- Artificial sweeteners: Chewing gum is made so sweet and desirable by using zero-calorie artificial sweeteners like aspartame and acesulfame K (Ace K). The research on artificial sweeteners is still evolving, making it one of the most hotly contested areas in nutrition science and research. But I’ll just say this: after reviewing the landscape, I personally choose to avoid artificial sweeteners for concerns that they might disrupt our gut microbiome and cause cravings for more sugar. I’d much rather have a piece of chewing gum with a tiny amount of real sugar or xylitol.
- Chemical additives. BHT and BHA are used as preservatives in chewing gum and are also super common in packaged, dry cereals. Titanium dioxide is a whitening agent used in chewing gum to make it look more vibrant and appealing. Both of these ingredients are banned in Europe for concerns of being linked to DNA damage and cancer; however, because there “isn’t enough evidence” to establish causation, their use is still permitted here in the US.
- Artificial dyes. The common ones you’ll find in fruit-flavored chewing gum or bubble gum are Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6. These dyes are linked to hyperactivity, ADHD symptoms, and allergies, especially in kids.
Here are some clean chewing-gum alternatives you can try that are free from microplastics and artificial ingredients.
- Simply Gum. The base of Simply Gum’s chewing gum is made from chicle, a natural gum made from tree sap. Their flavors are made using essential oils, and each piece is sweetened with one gram of organic raw cane sugar. They also make a sugar-free option that’s sweetened with xylitol if you want to skip the sugar.
- Glee Gum. Glee Gum also uses chicle as its gum base and is free from plastics and artificial ingredients. Their flavors are sweetened with cane sugar, and they have sugar-free gum that’s sweetened with xylitol as well. The downside to Glee Gum is that it loses its flavor pretty quickly.
The truth is we don’t know how bad conventional chewing gum actually is. Between the potential exposure to microplastics, artificial ingredients, and chemical preservatives, I think there are reasons for concern. It’s definitely not worth freaking out about, but just to be on the safe side, I’ll be taking a precautionary approach to my gum chewing for now.
Here’s to your health,