Are you chewing gum right now? I am.
I may be your go-to pharmacist but I have a quirky sense of humor so today we’ll dive into the world of chewing gum, and how it might be helpful for concentration. Weird, I know!
But we all know how easily our wandering minds get the best of us, and this leads to slowed-down productivity. It doesn’t seem plausible to me that a simple piece of gum might just be an aid for brain power. We will delve into all of this as we discuss the 4 most interesting concentration benefits of chewing gum:
1. Chewing Gum Increases Blood flow.
Chewing gum has been found to slightly increase circulation within the brain, at least according to the Parkinson’s Resource Organization where it is stated, “Some studies have reported that chewing gum increases blood flow to the brain by 25-40%.”
So maybe chewing gum can deliver a small but extra dose of oxygen and nutrients! This tiny surge in blood flow can result in improved cognitive performance, enhanced attention span, and increased mental alertness… at least for a few minutes. Do you know how your brain takes a shower? Most people don’t. READ MY BLOG about glymphatics.
Studies suggest that gum chewing can also stimulate the release of dopamine, a brain chemical that plays a significant role in our ability to focus. So, it’s not just a mere act of mastication, it’s a neurologically engaging process that enhances cognitive function.
2. Improves Multitasking.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by a never-ending to-do list. I’m with you! Now, I know what you’re thinking because I’m thinking it too. How can gum, which requires some attention to chew, actually improve concentration?
Experts say that chewing gum keeps your jaw busy, and as such it may help you push through tedious tasks with greater ease. It seems to act as a motivator but I’m not exactly sure how. Perhaps it’s that dopamine!
3. Peppermint Increases Alertness.
If you’re looking to supercharge your brainpower, choose spearmint or peppermint gum. We know that the aroma and taste of peppermint enhance cognitive performance and increase alertness. It’s thanks to the menthol.
So, whenever you feel like your brain needs a gentle wake-up call, pop a minty miracle. What if you don’t like mint? No problem, sometimes it’s just the flavor. We often pick a flavor that evokes a memory of childhood, or we get a flavor that we love. Beyond that, Peppermint is a Cool Solution for IBS.
For me, it’s probably Juicy Fruit. Or maybe bubble gum. My parents owned an ice cream truck and I would often take a piece of bubble gum so I could blow large bubbles. That stopped pretty quickly after I tangled my long hair in the sticky bubble and had to cut a wad of it off! Whatever flavor you like, it brings you joy, and when you’re happy you want to tackle more projects.
Feel like you don’t have enough joy in your life, and you are glued to the news, and other stressful situations? Read my blog, 8 Natural Remedies for Stress and Anxiety: Finding Calm Amidst Uncertainty.
4. Lowers Salivary Cortisol:
Let’s face it, life can get a bit stressful at times. Juggling all the aspects of life can leave one feeling frazzled, especially in this day and age of nonstop information and social media. Chewing gum can lower cortisol levels, at least in the brain. To be fair, not all the study conclusions agree on this subject matter.
We do know that cortisol can make one feel anxious. There was an MRI STUDY too. That paper concluded, “… gum chewing relieves stress by attenuating the sensory processing of external stressor and by inhibiting the propagation of stress-related information in the brain stress network.”
Cortisol has been in the news lately thanks to Ozempic. It’s not that the drug lowers cortisol, it does not. But the connection is that cortisol in excess leads to belly fat. Cortisol is a stress hormone by the way. Too much stress (ie too much cortisol) and you gain weight, particularly in the belly area, but all over —> in comes Ozempic to curb your cravings (and make you feel full). My point here is that weight gain is associated with high cortisol.
Does chewing gum lower blood levels of cortisol? How about urinary levels of cortisol? No, it does not, to my knowledge, it only lowers salivary levels and for a short time! Do you want to evaluate your cortisol? If so, you can do that with the DUTCH COMPLETE TEST, which I offer at my website at practitioner pricing (no doctor’s appointment needed).
If you’d like to understand how to lower systemic levels of cortisol, so you can really make a dent in your cravings, and support your weight loss goals, then you should read my other blog, From Medication to Mother Nature: Exploring Ozempic and 11 Other Natural Alternatives for Weight Loss and Blood Sugar Balance.
In conclusion, gum enthusiasts have an excuse to chew more, just make sure you pick the better brands and avoid letting the chewy goodness ruin your teeth! See your dentist regularly.
Chewing gum for a few minutes to boost concentration might just be the magical tool that helps you get through that pile of mail, write that blog, or build that graphic! So it’s okay to go ahead, indulge in a stick or two of your favorite gum, I’m not looking or judging anybody.
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.