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April 1, 2013 by MARCO TORRES
Why Chewing Gum Makes You Eat More Calories And Increases Weight Gain

Ask most dietitians and they'll likely recommend chewing gum as a method to curb hunger. It turns out that advice is not accurate at all. Between the aspartame and chemicals responsible for specific flavors in gum, they make healthy food unappealing causing gum chewers to consume more calories from unhealthy processed foods.

The study, published in the April issue of the Journal Eating Behaviors, suggests that chewing gum may lead people to eat chips, cookies and candy instead of fruits and veggies. That's partly because menthol, the chemical responsible for the minty-fresh flavor of some types of gum makes fruits and veggies taste funny.

Aspartame is the other part of the equation. 85 percent of major brands of chewing gum still contain aspartame. Aspartame in gum is absorbed by the buccal mucosa of the mouth, gums, and the tongue.

According to research, because aspartame is absorbed this way, it makes aspartame a far worse poisoning than if given or injected intravenously. Aspartame, via ingestion into the digestive tract, is made into some ten other poisonings by the digestive processes, and then excepting that which is delivered directly to the pancreas, they are transported straight to the liver via the portal vein, where they then are very partially dealt with, and partially reprocessed.

Former McGill University researcher Dana Small specializes in the neuropsychology of flavour and feeding at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. Small said there's mounting evidence that artificial sweeteners have a couple of problematic effects. Sugar substitutes such as sucralose and aspartame are more intensely sweet than sugar and may rewire taste receptors so less sweet, healthier foods aren't as enjoyable, shifting preferences to higher calorie, sweeter foods, she said. Small and some other researchers believe artificial sweeteners interfere with brain chemistry and hormones that regulate appetite and satiety. For millennia, sweet taste signalled the arrival of calories. But that's no longer the case with artificial sweeteners.

"The sweet taste is no longer signalling energy and so the body adapts," Small said in an interview with CBC News. "It's no longer going to release insulin when it senses sweet because sweet now is not such a good predictor of the arrival of energy." The chemical change is the same reason why "when you brush your teeth and then drink orange juice, it tastes bad," said study co-author Christine Swoboda, a doctoral candidate in nutrition at Ohio State University. And because it may evoke thoughts of food and get digestive juices flowing, some people hypothesized that chewing gum could make people hungrier.

But scientists have also hypothesized the opposite -- that the act of chewing could make people feel more full and, in turn, eat less. To test that claim, the gum manufacturer Wrigley even offers grants for scientific research on the subject. Susan Swithers, a psychology professor at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., studies behavioural neuroscience. "Exposure to high-intensity sweeteners could change the way that sweet tastes are processed," she says.

"A number of epidemiological studies show that people who do consume high intensity sweeteners show differences in metabolic responses, have an increased risk for things like Type 2 diabetes and also have an increased risk for overweight and obesity."

To carry out the study, Ms Swoboda and her colleague Jennifer Temple of the University of Buffalo, enrolled 44 volunteers.

Each candidate was asked to play a game in exchange for food.

Some played for pieces of fruit, while others played for crisps and sweets.

Before taking part in the experiment, half of the volunteers had chewed either fruit gum or mint gum.

It was discovered that those who had chewed mint flavoured gum were significantly less likely to play for as long to win fruit as they were to win the junk food.

The researchers also discovered that people who chew gum tend to eat fewer mealsĀ  - but that this does not translate to fewer calories.

They determined this in a second experiment during which the volunteers were asked to keep a food diary.

For part of the time, the volunteers were asked to chew mint gum before meals, while for the rest of the time they were simply asked to note down their food intake.

The food diaries showed that while chewing gum, people ate fewer meals but that they did not consume fewer calories as a result.

Ms Swoboda said that the explanation could be that the menthol in mint interacts with nutrients in fruits and vegetables to create a bitter flavour and that this was making healthy foods seem unappealing. People "ate less fruits and vegetables, because in their head, they thought 'I have to chew gum before every meal -- do I really want a snack of grapefruit?'" she said. "Whereas, they were like, 'I'm so hungry I'm going to eat this double cheeseburger and it will taste the same.'"

But switching from mint to other flavors won't make a difference if the chewing gum still contains artificial sweeteners. With the inclusion of chemicals such as aspartame in gum, the body infers that sugar is being ingested. In anticipation of its arrival, the pancreas reflexively releases insulin. This is one way in which aspartame affects the pancreas. It can also cause considerable stimulation of the exocrine part of the pancreas that involves the pancreatic juices. This may even produce pancreatitis-inflammation of the pancreas-which in the process might disturb the islet cells.

A Japanese animal study reported in the April 2009 issue of "PloS One" found that artificial sweetenersstimulated sweet taste receptors that induced an insulin response. A 1989 study reported in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" which was supported by funds from NutraSweet, which contains aspartame, found no rise in insulin levels after aspartame ingestion. An abstract presented at the June 2009 Annual Meeting of the Endocrine Society by the National Institutes of Health reviewed data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. Researchers found that people who used artificial sweeteners were twice as likely to develop diabetes as well as higher fasting insulin levels.

There is an enormous reserve of pancreatic juices. At least 60 percent or more of the pancreas would have to be destroyed before interfering with pancreatic function would occur. One way to stimulate the pancreas to produce its secretions is to give amino acids, including phenylalanine, with or without another amino acid. Aspartame products have produced clinical pancreatitis. Neither the long-term effects to the secretory pancreas nor the relationship to the subsequent overstimulation of the pancreas have been studied.

Aspartame, also marketed as Nutrasweet, Spoonful, Canderel and Equal as well as being a common additive in many foods and drinks is quite simply a poisonous sugar replacement and should be avoided in any food. It's ingestion is equivalent to any toxic poison.

Natural Alternatives - Aspartame/Sucralose Free Gum

There are now several chewing gums free of aspartame and sucralose on the market. Some mainstream brands such as Chiclets and Bazooka claim to be aspartame free but still have toxic ingredients and colors. Zapp Gum is another alternative but it still has artificial flavour and toxic soy lecithin. Peppersmith is touted as an all natural gum but contains genetically modified rapeseed lecithin.

What you need to look for are chewing gums with no artificial preservatives, no artificial flavors, no artificial colors and no artificial sweeteners. Do they exist? Yes. Here are two brands but you can also make your own gum if you are up to the task:

Glee Gum is all-natural, gluten-free chewing gum with no artificial coloring, flavoring, sweeteners nor preservatives. Glee Gum is the only gum in North America made the old-fashioned way using chicle. Chicle is a natural tree sap harvested sustainably from the rainforests of Central America.

Pur gum comes in a couple of different (and yummy) flavors, pomegranate mint, spearmint, and peppermint.

Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.

Reference Sources 138, 231
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