Did You Know?
Chewing gum is one of the oldest candies that is being enjoyed by people all over the world for over thousands of years now.
The history of the chewing gum dates back to the era of Ancient Greeks who chewed gum made from the resin of the mastic tree, and the Mayans consumed gum that was made from the sapodilla tree. Even after so many centuries, gum still remains popular. However, ingredients have changed.
Made of artificial latex or chicle, chewing gums with their attractive colors and flavoring are a favorite of people around the world. In fact, there are more than 1,000 varieties of gum manufactured and sold in the world today. They are not only available in a variety of flavors like mint, cinnamon, and fruit flavors, but are also available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. In addition to this, there are the center-filled gums, the cut and wrap gums, stick gums, and the spaghetti gums. While the coloring and the flavoring may differ in some way, the basic ingredients remain the same. Let us take a closer look at what exactly is involved in the making of chewing gum.
List of Chewing Gum Ingredients
It is the gum base in a chewing gum which makes it all chewy. The International Chewing Gum Association defines it as "a combination of food-grade polymers, waxes, and softeners that give it the texture desired by consumers and enable it to effectively deliver sweetness, flavor, and various other benefits, including dental benefits". This ingredient is therefore used for binding all the ingredients together for a smooth and soft texture. It is believed that the use of synthetic gum base materials can provide longer-lasting flavor, improved texture, and reduced tackiness.
Previously, the gum base used was the latex sap of the sapodilla tree, known as the chicle
. In addition to this, other natural gum bases used were sorva and jelutong. Beeswax or paraffin wax has also used as a gum base. In recent years, the natural gum base slowly gave way to the synthetic rubber gum base or a mixture of the artificial and natural base.
Sweeteners such as pure powdered cane sugar, beet juice, sugar, and corn syrup are used in the production of sugar-sweetened chewing gums. Several types of high-intensity sweeteners along with some artificial sweeteners are used to deliver a long-lasting, but non-caloric taste to this form of candy. They include
- Acesulfame K
To maintain the freshness of the chewing gums, certain food preservatives are used to retain the flavors and help it last long.
Flavorings and Colorings
The ingredients used for flavoring in chewing gums give them a long-lasting, high intensity, and high-quality flavor. The most popular flavors for chewing gums come from the mint plant. The most commonly used flavors in chewing gums are peppermint, fruit, spice essences, cinnamon, spearmint, and menthol. These chewing gum flavors are synthetically created and perfected in the lab.
To keep the chewing gum soft and flexible, glycerin and other vegetable oil products are used to retain the moisture.
Effects on Health
Increases Stomach Acid
Doctors have discouraged the consumption of chewing gums as the process of chewing gum over a long period of time is believed to stimulate the stomach to produce acid to abnormal levels.
One of the benefits of chewing gum is that it freshens the mouth and throat, and also fights tooth decay. Sugar-free gum sweetened with xylitol and sorbitol has been shown to reduce cavities and plaque by stimulating the production of saliva, which helps starve the microorganisms and the plaque acid in the mouth. In addition to this it is also believed that calcium lactate in the chewing gums can increase re-calcification. Certain chewing gums also have the ability to whiten teeth and to prevent stains from forming. However, you need to be aware of a sugary gum which can degrade the enamel quality.
One of the health issues regarding it is related to the cancer-inducing ingredients present in various types of gums. It is believed that most chewing gums are sweetened with aspartame. The effects of intake of aspartame over a long period of time has been closely linked with cancer, diabetes, neurological disorders, and birth defects.
Other chewing gum health problems include chronic constipation, abdominal pain, gas, and mouth ulcers. Also, certain flavorings like licorice may cause high blood pressure.
Irrespective of all these health problems posed by the chewing gum ingredients, these candies continue to be a favorite among people the world over. Although it has some side effects, it has been proven beneficial in many cases.