When I was a kid, my mother refused to allow me or my sisters to chew gum. This was an incredible injustice in my eyes. Chewing gum was cool! But she stayed firm: she couldn’t stand seeing little girls chomping away on gum. To her, it looked cheap, stupid, and classless. As an adult, I have to admit, she was right about that. Chewing gum is probably not your best way to appear intelligent and grown-up.
However, while it may not look great, recent research suggests that chewing gum has some rather interesting effects. In fact, it may improve mood, reduce stress, and improve alertness and cognitive function.
In several studies, chewing gum has been associated with improved attention, greater alertness and a more positive mood. Reaction times were quicker when research subjects were chewing gum, and this effect became bigger as the task became more difficult.
Not all studies have shown completely consistent results, of course, as is always the way with research. Some studies showed that chewing gum improved memory; subsequent studies failed to show this result. But after reviewing the literature, I’m pretty convinced that, overall, there’s something about chewing gum that gives us a brain and mood boost.
So, as long as you can be somewhat subtle about it (no open-mouthed chomping please, ladies!) chewing gum can give you an edge and amp up your health & mood a little. Totally calorie-free, and without effort. Now how often can you say that?