Is Chewing Gum Bad for You?

Is chewing gum bad for you

The Dangers of Chewing Gum on Your Fitness

Okay. Let’s be real. It’s a tiny little piece of chewing gum.

It’s not really dangerous. 

But is chewing gum bad for you and your fitness goals?

Yes – there are some interesting thoughts (not to mention research) about how that little piece of gum can actually stall your fitness progress. Sounds crazy I know.

But here’s the thing.

Our bodies are uber complex and super intertwined.

There’s a concept called the Kinetic Chain. Now of course, not everyone believe this (some people are just behind the times, what can I say).

But the idea is this: every part of your body is connected through a series of chains to lots of other parts of your body. That means muscles, joints, ligaments – they are all intertwined from your head down to your toes.

And in order to do any movement, you have to recruit nerves from nearly your entire body.

So doing a bicep curl requires much more than just your bicep muscle – you need your shoulder and elbow joints, muscles in your back and abs, even nerves activating in your spinal cord or elsewhere.

is chewing gum bad for youEverything is one giant web.

So back to the chewing gum.

Some research came out that showed that some of the muscles in your jaw are actually connected through the kinetic chain to the muscles in your hips and butt.

So when you use those chewing muscles, you’re also activating the nerves and muscles in your hips and butt. 

Now sure, we chew all day long when we eat.  But chewing gum does something a little different to those jaw muscle.   Because you’re repeatedly gnawing on silicone that doesn’t disintegrate or break down like all other food, chewing gum increases the friction and tension in your jaw.  Those muscles keep working hard for not results (other than maybe fresher breath).

And because every time you chew you’re also activating the hip and butt muscles, more tension in the jaw means more tension in the hip flexors and glute muscles. 

At first glance this doesn’t seem so bad.  Because because your creating a tension but not moving or stretching those muscles, that tension in teh hips and glutes just leads to tight and stuff muscles. 

That means limited mobility, decreased performance and possibly injury.

All from a silly little piece of gum!

Now does that mean that you should stop chewing gum altogether? That’s up to you.

But just cutting out your gum habits doesn’t mean you’ll increase your hip mobility.

You still need to foam roll, stretch and work mobility to really get your max potential from your tight or restricted bodies.  But cutting the gum habits may stop them from getting worse.

But chewing up doesn’t only screw with your hip flexibility and ruin your deep squats. Maybe these 3 other downsides of chewing gum will make you think twice before popping some minty freshness: 

1. Chewing gum can screw up your gut health

Chewing is the first step in the digestive process. It’s a signal to your body that you’re about to get food and you need to release some saliva to help break it down. But it also signals to your stomach that you need to start releasing stomach acids to help break down the incoming food. Now those acids are great when you’re eating. But that gum is a different story – it’s tricking your body into thinking food is on the way, when it’s not. So those stomach acids just sit in wait in your belly, throwing off the pH of your gut. The new acidic environment can start killing off the good bacteria in your gut making it harder for you to absorb nutrients in the future.

2. Chewing gum can screw up your sugar levels

It doesn’t matter if it’s sugar free or sugar full, the sweetness of chewing gum stimulates your digestion and elevates your blood sugar levels. Just the act of chewing it is enough to elevate your blood glucose and release extra insulin into your blood. That gum just tricks your body into thinking you’re eating food – so your body prepares for the incoming sweet goodness it thinks it’s getting. The problem is that your body releases extra insulin that doesn’t actually have any food particles to work on. Not only do you get surges and crashes in energy, but your body starts to lose the ability to regulate your insulin levels appropriately because what it sent out wasn’t able to work.

3. Chewing gum can reduce your sleep quality

We already know that chewing gum increases the tension in your jaw.  One of the most common sleeping disorders is called braxium – the clenching or grinding of your teeth while you’re snoozing. And braxium can actually make your sleep quality very poor.  The tighter you let your jaw get throughout the day, the more likely you are to clench and grind your teeth at night.  

Sure, that gum might help make your mouth feel clean and freshen up your breath, but at what cost? You decide if those little minty squares are worth it. 


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Comments 2

  1. Okay Underground Lab, This is SOOOO true!!! The thing about your jaw and hips being connected is TOTALLY correct! I've been working with bodies for over 20 years, as massage therapist, sports therapist and now Neuro Muscular Therapist. My years of woking one on one with people constantly prove the kinetic chain. A client comes in with lack of flexibility in hips measured by inability to do a full , comfortable squat. I can ask 'how is your sleep?' (seems unrelated right?) 9 times out of ten they say 'well….' with some description of interrupted sleep. I then go to their jaw with light NMR manipulation to find tender points that need released. Once released in the jaw, I can move the hips and gluts around to where the client is supprised by the pliability of their muscles. They stand up, do a squat, and all be darned if they don't smile out loud in astonishment in how much ease they have with the squat! Here is the kicker, when I see them a week later and ask "hey, hows your sleep?" and after a quick brain check they declare "Hey…better!".
    The power of the kinetic chain is an amazing way to undo pain and stiffness, thank you for spending the word!
    Now, time to rethink my gum habit for the sake of my gut 😉

    1. Post

      Thanks for your comment Tisha! The human body is so complex and intertwined, it can be incredible to learn about how one small thing can impact so much!

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