What is it with chewing gum these days?
It used to be that all your gum had to give you was fresh breath. Then came whiter teeth, then strong teeth, then energy in the form of caffeine, and now, this…..
While waiting in line at Target, I saw the new Stride Chewing Gum: Stride Spark with vitamins B6 and B12.
I guess I shouldn’t be knocking anything that can deliver vitamins to this vitamin deprived society, but let’s just take a look at what else you’re getting with your “energy boosting vitamins”.
Stride ingredient list:
- sorbitol: sweetener
- mannitol: sweetener
- glycerin: sweetener and natural lubricator (keeps the gum from drying out your mouth)
- natural and artificial flavor (whatever those are…)
- xylitol: sweetener
- acesulfame potassium: artificial sweetener
- aspartame: yet another artificial sweetener
- BHT: artificial preservative
- Artificial color blue #1
- Vitamin B12 in the amount of 25% RDA in one piece
- pectin: a thickening agent
- Vitamin B6 in the amount of 25% RDA in one piece
- soy lecithin: a thickening agent
- sucralose: ok….another artificial sweetener
OK..so that’s 7 sweeteners. Is this gum sweet or what?
Sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol are polyalcohol based sugars. While you won’t toss your cookies after ingesting these types of “alcohol” sugars, you may still need the bathroom, because they can cause diarrhea, bloating and gas. Yeah, while you’re trying to avoid bad breath on your date, you end up stinking up the car anyway.
Aspertame (nutra-sweet) is one of the most widely used artificial sweeteners on the market. It is also the one that has had the most complaints of any food additive available to the public. It’s been linked with MS, lupus, fibromyalgia and other central nervous disorders. Possible side effects of aspartame include headaches, migraines, panic attacks, dizziness, irritability, nausea, intestinal discomfort, skin rash, and nervousness. Some researchers have linked aspartame with depression and manic episodes. It may also contribute to male infertility. Which may work on a date, but not after the wedding. A 2007 study states aspartame may cause cancer including lymphoma and breast cancer. But this chemical is so widely used, and the dollar amount profit so high, I doubt manufacturers would even consider switching to another alternative.
Acesulfame Potassium sounds like it might be ok. I mean, it has the word potassium in it and all,…but it isn’t. It is a chemically derived sweetener that, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, has not been adequately tested on animals or humans. They don’t know what it might do. How does it feel to be a guinea pig?
Sucralose, an artificial substance, seems to be the safest among the sweeteners, but it is not without concern. At extremely high doses it had effects on the thymus gland (which is the head honcho of the immune system) and reduces the “good” bacteria in your intestines.
Even if all these chemicals were absolutely safe, there would still be the harm of your mouth constantly being fed “sweet” without the carbs.
This constant sweet in your mouth really pisses the brain off. When we eat sweet foods, special taste buds trigger enzymes that prime our brain to anticipate an extra energy boost. The enzymes in your mouth begin a cascade that primes your cell receptors for an insulin surge (the result of ingesting food), and when it doesn’t arrive your brain feels cheated. Your brain wants the energy boost you promised it, so you start craving carbs. (isn’t our brain amazing?)
In one study, people who used artificial sweeteners ate up to three times the amount of calories as the control group. There was a more recent study that linked drinking sugar-free soft drinks to weight gain, again because of the brain’s perception of the sweet causing cravings. But this is individual. It all comes down to the brain’s perception of calories, which can get thrown off whenever artificial ingredients are substituted for whole food.
But what about the vitamin B’s…. I need energy!
Here’s a novel idea: get your B vitamins from food!
The same amounts of B vitamins that are in the one piece of chemical gum are also found in:
- 1 banana
- 1 serving of oatmeal
- 1/2 cup garbonzo beans (chickpeas)
- 2 oz sunflower seeds
- baked potato
- 3 oz salmon
- 1 serving of breakfast cereal
…..and the list goes on and on. Yes, there are calories in these foods and not in the gum, but there are also protein, minerals omega-3’s, and real carbs.
I haven’t ingested any artificial sweeteners in the past 6 years. There’s no reason to. And I’m still just as sweet :p
If you must….OK…chew the damn gum…..but chew in moderation and please don’t think that your gum is going to take the place of your healthy well-balanced diet ….right Violet Beauregarde?…….