Do You Know What Your
Chewing Gum Contains?
What Goes into Making a Chewing Gum?
Chewing gum is typically composed of Gum
Base, Softeners, Sweetenersand Flavors. These are briefly discussed below.
Gum Base: As indicated above, the gum base is rubbery in nature,
and used to be derived from latex sap (called chicle) of the sapodilla tree.
Other natural sources include gum Arabic, natural resin, food grade
agar, Chiku,Ghatti, Jhingan, Khair etc.
However, these days, with the advent of rubber
synthesis technology,synthetic rubber is primarily used for making the gum
base. These include:
Glycerol esters of
wood resin/gum resin
Glycerol esters of
partially hydrogenated wood/gum resin
As has been indicated above, there are many
components of gum base (besides lanolin) that remain unknown to the consumer,
since the manufacturers have no intention to declare them, in the absence of
any strict regulations forcing them to do so.
Softeners: As the name suggests, the primary function of this
component is to maintain a "soft" consistency of the gum so that it
is appealing to the consumers. This component helps to retain moisture and
prevents the gum from hardening. The most common softeners are glycerin and
Sweeteners: As you have probably guessed, the most common sweetener
is sugar. Sometimes, corn syrup is also used. For the health conscious, the
following artificial sweeteners are also used:
Flavors: The flavor component of chewing gum is usually added last
and imparts a long-lasting, refreshing, and zingy taste to the chewing
What are the Various Varieties of Chewing
Chewing gums come in a variety of shapes &
sizes, attractive wrappers, flavors (already discussed) and a number of novel
functions. Some chewing gums are advertised to impart a white sheen to the
teeth (Orbit Whitening) or for giving kids some fun e.g. Bubble Gums (Hubba
Bubba, Super Bazooka etc.). Other varieties have medical functions, and
contain drugsimpregnated in them. These include the
Analgesic e.g. Aspirin
Antacid e.g. Calcium
To increase alertness
To prevent dental
caries e.g. Xylitol or Chlorhexidine
To give-up smoking e.g. Nicotine
To provide nutrition e.g. Vitamin C
The major international agency on food safety
and standards is the Codex Alimentarius, which has fixed the maximum
levels (in mg/kg) of various food additives in chewing gum. The Food
Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the apex food regulatory
authority in India has fixed the chemical composition and maximal levels (in
ppm) of the various food additives in chewing gum/bubble gum.
Are there any Health Hazards from Chewing
Yes there are! There are a number of health hazards that consumers should be aware
Chewing Gum Can Trigger Temporo-Mandibular
Joint Disorder (TMD): The temporo-mandibular joint is the joint that
connects the jaw bone (mandible) with the temporal bone of the skull. Excessive
chewing can cause differential contraction of the muscles, particularly if you chew more with one
side of the mouth as opposed to the other. This can trigger TMD, which causes
chronic pain, tightening and inflammation of the jaw muscles, ear aches, tooth aches, as well as migraine-type headaches.
Chewing Gum Can Cause Gastrointestinal
Problems: Chewing gum increases the air intake into the gastro-intestinal
(GI) tract, which can cause abdominal cramps and bloating. It can also
aggravate the condition in patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome
(IBS). Peppermint flavored chewing gum can cause gastric acid reflux. Also,
popping a chewing gum into the mouth immediately causes the brain to send
signals to the digestive system to be prepared to expect
food intake. As a result, saliva and other gastric juices, including gastric
acid starts to be secreted. Since, there is no intake of food, this actually
may compromise your ability to digest food due to lack of digestive juices,
when you actually consume food. This can cause indigestion. Some chewing gums
sweetened with artificial sweeteners can cause diarrhea.
Sweeteners: As you have probably guessed, the most common sweetener is sugar. Sometimes, corn syrup is also used. For the health conscious, the following artificial sweeteners are also used: