By Jeanne Ongiyo
How many times have you felt bored or anxious then decided to reach out for a piece of gum? Chewing gum at the moment? What if I told you that one piece of gum is what separates you from a hoard of unforeseen illnesses? Therefore, you should think twice before you decide to chew another piece of gum.
Habitual chewing of gum results to temporo-mandibular join disorder which is the pain associated with the rapid movement of the jaw that is connected to the skull hence causing severe headaches. Chewing gum is also a possible cause of stomach and mouth ulcers. How, you may ask? When chewing, the brain automatically sends a ‘message’ to the stomach that the digestion process has already begun in the mouth. The digestive system then produces digestive juices like hydrochloric acid which when produced in large amounts tend to corrode the walls of the stomach as well as the mouth in more advanced cases. These juices are one of the common causes of stomach and mouth sores which may go undetected over a long period of time but may hazardous to the health of an individual.
Some chewing gum manufacturers use phenylalanine as an ingredient in the production of their gum. Phenylalanine is used as an artificial sweetener acting as a substitute for sugar but chewing gum manufacturers are wise enough not to list this ingredient or the quantity used in the package. This is because phenylalanine is a substance that may trigger mental retardation, high blood pressure and heart attacks when ingested in large amounts.
More often than not, most chewing gum manufacturers package their chewing gum with sachets lined with a thin silver film. This thin silver film is strongly suggested to contain small amounts of mercury; a substance that is considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern. Presence of mercury in the body cells has toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems.
Perhaps all these facts may not be very influential at the moment since the number of reported cases is minimal but this is sure to be a fact that will throw you off the roof and probably make you vow to never chew gum again! Lanolin, an active ingredient used in the manufacture of cosmetics as a skin moisturizing agent is also used in chewing gum to make it soft. If the whole thought of actually tasting lotion is not disgusting enough then maybe the source of lanolin will do the trick. Lanolin is a thick-waxy substance secreted by the sebaceous glands of wool bearing animals like sheep. The name sebaceous may sound more of a component of a meal served in a five-star hotel but in plain layman’s language it means organs that are responsible for the production of fats and oils in the body and in a sheep’s case these glands are located at the rear side around the rump! So the next time you reach out for a piece of gum, visualize the bleating sound of a sheep and I’m sure the urge will fade away.
Chewing gum comes in an array of shapes, colours, sizes and flavours to choose from but let us all remember we will not have the choice on what colour, shape or flavour of medication to cure the illnesses that come along with chewing gum.
Let us make the right decision…Feel like nibbling on something to kill anxiety or just pass time? Choose a carrot instead.