Gum Chewing - More than Just Fresh Breath!
Interestingly, this week the reflux buzz in the news is about the benefits of gum chewing. It seems someone found some older research that shows that gum chewing decreases the stomach pH. Doing a pubmed search, I was able to find two studies that looked at the effect of gum chewing on gastric pH. Both studies showed that chewing sugar free gum decreased the acidity in the stomach. In the Moazzez, et.al. study, the authors were able to conclude that chewing sugar free gum for half an hour after a meal significantly decreased the percent of time the esophagus had a pH below 4 (acidic). Neither study investigated if the patients felt better after chewing gum or if there were any long term benefits like decreasing medication, etc.
There are so many medication options out there for reflux but these have side effects that go along with them. It’s nice to have a preventive option that is proven to help. For me, I’m sure that gum chewing isn’t going to replace my H2 blocker but it is nice to know that that piece of gum I’m chewing isn’t only making my breath a little fresher.
A little warning though – too much of a good thing can be a problem. The artificial sweeteners in sugar free products are known to have the potential side effect of gas and diarrhea so like always moderation is the key!