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Molly Gee from Wrigley (yes, the gum company) joins Craig to discuss a weight loss method you might not have considered: Chewing gum! Yes, it can help you avoid weight gain!

Counting calories doesn’t have to be difficult; there are simple choices you can make to improve your health. For example, trading a stick of Wrigley’s Extra at five calories for a high-calorie snack containing 140 calories can save 135 calories a day.

Plus, it keeps your mouth busy, creating a diversion to help avoid those unwanted calories associated with “mindless munching.”

Research also shows chewing gum can be an effective way to manage calorie intake. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have discovered that chewing gum can burn about 11 calories per hour. Another study published in Appetite found that chewing gum before an afternoon snack can help reduce hunger, diminish cravings for sweets, and decrease snack intake by 36 calories.

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“At an average of just five to 10 calories a piece, gum can reduce overall calorie intake when substituted for a high-calorie snack as part of an active, healthy lifestyle …”

The act of chewing gum also requires some input of energy and, in fact, an extra twelve kilocalories (50kJ) per hour is burned in the process. Thus someone who chewed gum all day, everyday would burn off about 5kg of weight in a year This has actually been studied by Mayo Clinic researchers. It does require some energy to chew–an hour of chewing burns 11 calories. You would have to chew gum–sugarless gum–12 hours every day for a year to lose approximately 10 pounds. That’s doing it the hard way. But maybe chewing a piece of gum would keep you from eating a candy bar.

Most everybody loves to chew gum, whether for the flavor or just for the simple pleasure of chewing. But did you know that chewing gum also:

Provides a Low-calorie Snack
Chewing gum often satisfies the desire for a between-meals snack, yet each stick averages less than 10 calories.

Improves Concentration
One theory behind this is that the action of chewing stimulates a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which releases hormones which serve to keep us alert. At work, chewing gum helps us concentrate on the task at hand. Many truck drivers find that chewing gum helps them stay alert at the wheel.

Eases Tension
As early as 1939, scientific studies showed how chewing reduces muscular tension and helps people feel more at ease. Because it is so well-recognized for helping stay alert at the same time it eases tension, the U.S. Armed Forces have supplied chewing gum to its soldiers ever since World War I. It is still included in field and combat rations today.

Freshens Breath
Chewing gum, especially a mint-flavored gum like Wrigley’s Spearmint or Doublemint, moistens and refreshes the mouth and throat and sweetens the breath.

Helps Fight Tooth Decay
After meals, it isn’t always convenient to use a toothbrush. Chewing gum stimulates the production of saliva, which helps neutralize acids from foods that may cause tooth decay.

The popular perception is that chewing gum is bad for the teeth. However, many dentists (one source says 90%!) believe that chewing sugarless gum after meals actually has health benefits! Indeed, Wrigley’s Orbit sugar-free gum was the first sugar-free chewing gum to be awarded accreditation by the British Dental Association (BDA) in recognition of its contribution to good oral health. The benefits arise from the fact that tooth decay occurs when essential minerals are dissolved from the tooth enamel by acids produced by the bacteria in plaque. Teeth are at their most vulnerable directly after meals and snacks, when plaque acid levels can rise dramatically.

Normally, it can take up to two hours for these acids to be either flushed away or neutralised, during which time the teeth are under attack. This is why people are extolled to eat something crispy like an apple immediately after meals.

However, chewing gum removes these acids within minutes, thus slowing down the process of tooth decay. One reason for this is that chewing can stimulate saliva production by up to ten-fold, thus flushing out oral bacteria. Furthermore, saliva contains hydrogen carbonate ions, a mild alkali, which serves to neutralise plaque acids. For this reason, hydrogen carbonate is used in some toothpastes. Saliva also contains minerals such as calcium, phosphate and fluoride – all components of tooth enamel – which can be assimilated and thus help to repair early decay and also strengthen tooth enamel.

Another theory is that amylase, an enzyme present in saliva, speeds up the digestion of carbohydrates in food.

Chewing gum when travelling on an aircraft can counteract the irritation caused by changes in air pressure.

Molly Gee, M.Ed., R.D.
Ms. Gee is the project leader for Baylor College’s LOOK AHEAD, a multi-center clinical trial that examines the cardiovascular benefits of weight loss in Type 2 diabetes patients. A former health reporter, and American Dietetic Association spokesperson, Ms. Gee is a consultant with more than 25 years experience in health and nutrition communications.

Wrigley’s Benefits of Chewing
Wrigley, the world’s leading manufacturer of chewing gum (including well-loved brands like Orbit, Extra, and Eclipse), is committed to sharing emerging science on the potential health and wellness benefits of chewing gum. We are currently pursuing four key scientific areas: how gum can help reduce situational stress; manage weight; increase focus, alertness and concentration; and improve oral health.

About Wrigley:

Since its founding in 1891, the Wrigley Company has been led by four generations of the Wrigley family, each of which has made their mark on the organization. Across these generations there has been a continuous commitment to providing the world’s highest-quality chewing gum and confectionery products that are both great tasting, and make life a little more fun.

Wrigley’s brands of chewing gum have been a refreshing part of everyday life for more than 100 years. The spirit of innovation that has made Wrigley one of the world’s best known and best loved companies continues today, with exciting new products, new markets and new ideas.

Chewing gum assumed its modern formulation when, during the 1860s, chicle was brought to the United States and tried as a chewing gum ingredient by a dental technician, Dr Thomas Adams – who was actually trying to invent a new form of rubber! Chicle comes from the milky juice (latex) of the sapodilla tree, which grows in the tropical rain forests of Central America. Dr Adams owned a sweet shop, and also had the habit of chewing on his pencil, which helped him to concentrate. This gave him the idea of trying the gum to perfect the existing forms of chewing gum. Although this gum apparently tasted vile, he sold it in his shop, thus being the first person to sell chewing gum in its modern form.

At this stage, William Wrigley, a flour factory owner, bought the rights to the gum and also found a way to flavour it with mint. In 1892 he decided to give away two packs of his chewing gum with each can of baking powder he sold, and the offer was a huge success! People were buying the baking powder just to get the gum, and it was not long before chicle gum succeeded spruce gum and paraffin wax as the base for chewing gum. This was due to its smooth, springy, chewy texture and its capacity to retain flavours.

Nowadays 90% of chewing gum is manufactured by Wrigley, and the basic process has changed little since manufacture began in 1892.

Wrigley associates are proud to be a part of the Wrigley Company, and are dedicated to its long-term success. Every associate is expected to operate under the Company’s shared values and rely on these values to guide their behavior with each other, and the customers and communities of the Wrigley Company. These values form the foundation for the way we conduct our business – the Wrigley Way.