Studies suggest that chewing gum helps with anxiety. Several studies point to a number of additional benefits of chewing gum. Some of these benefits include increased blood flow to the brain, increased metabolism in the brain, better serotonergic activity, reduced perceived stress, and even a potential method of helping reduce symptoms of depression caused by stress.
All of these benefits culminate in an increase in cognitive function and mental performance. Chewing gum helps increase your alertness, like coffee, without adding to your potential for anxiety, which is common with caffeine. Extensive research has shown how gum decreases stress and anxiety associated with studying and work.
“[T]he benefits of long term chewing on stress reduction suggests that it may be a simple, cost effective method of reducing stress and improving quality of life and well-being.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6410656/
How Does Gum Help Relieve Anxiety?
One study surveyed a group of 2,248 workers, and found an interesting correlation between gum chewing and anxiety. While the gum chewers did report being exposed to increased work stressors, such as unsociable hours or the long hours, they also reported that they felt less stressed at work. The benefits of chewing gum extended into their personal lives as well. The evidence of these studies suggests that there is a strong correlation between chewing gum and reducing chronic anxiety and stress.
Increased Blood Flow To Brain
One of the ways chewing gum helps relieve stress is that it increases blood flow to your brain. Neurocore Brain Performance Centers points out that blood is what oxygenates our brains. When we have diminished blood flow, our brains aren’t getting all of the oxygen they need to function at peak performance. In addition, they say that a third of the brain is made up of blood vessels. So it isn’t a surprise that the better the blood supply to the brain, the better it performs.
“In fact, increased blood flow to the brain is linked to better cognitive function, improved memory, and overall protection against decline.” – Neurocore Brain Performance Centers
When your brain is getting the blood flow and oxygen it needs, it performs better, and you’ll have improved cognitive function and diminished anxiety. Chewing gum is one of the easiest ways you can increase blood flow to your brain, virtually any time or anywhere.
Increased Cerebral Glucose Metabolism
Chewing gum has been shown to increase cerebral glucose levels in the rostral medial prefrontal cortex. A link has even been made by examining the effect of increased levels of glucose in the brain to decreased salivary cortisol levels, which is one method of measuring stress. It’s clear that when the levels of glucose are increased in the brain, the better it performs.
Reduction of Depression
By improving the function of the ventral prefrontal cortex, the activity of serotonergic neurons is improved. The better the brain functions and increases your serotonin levels the more you feel a sense of well-being and happiness. This has been shown to help reduce the symptoms of depression, in people who are experiencing mild to moderate depression.
Reduced Processing of External Stressors
One study, specifically researched how gum may help cope with external stressors. In this study, one group of participants were exposed to a loud noise while chewing gum, and the other group while not chewing gum. The study found that participants felt less stressed when exposed to the noise while chewing gum. In the control group there was clear evidence that the noise activated the left anterior insula, and the bilateral superior temporal sulcus. In the intervention group, those who did chew gum during the test, it was shown that there was a significant reduction of stress.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) showed that chewing gum did decrease the amount of activity in the brain areas associated with anxiety and stress. It was demonstrated that gum chewing did inhibit the connectivity between the anterior insula and the bilateral superior temporal sulcus. This culminates as evidence that chewing gum inhibits the propagation of stress information in the network of the brain.
The Scientific Research
Several studies have researched the connection between chewing gum and anxiety relief. In a study conducted by M Sesay the act of chewing gum on the brain was examined via CT scan and Xenon-Enhanced computed tomography. The scans proved that there was significant “regional cerebral blood flow” (rCBF) elevation in various parts of the brain including the fronto-temporal cortex, thalamus, caudate nucleus, and many more.
Chewing gum for anxiety and stress was also evaluated by numerous other scientific studies. They were conducted to establish if there was a relationship between chewing gum and anxiety relief, and definitively proved that chewing gum does help reduce anxiety. Each study examined the effects on an intervention group and a control group. Control groups are those that do not have the element that is being tested, in this case it was gum to chew. Those in the intervention group were instructed to chew gum twice a day for two weeks. The studies have shown there is a direct link between chewing gum and anxiety relief, a reduction of fatigue and improvement in mood.
More Ways To Reduce Anxiety
In addition to chewing gum there are natural ways we can help reduce our anxiety. These include deep breathing exercises, taking a break, daily exercise, eating well, limiting exposure to caffeine and alcohol, keeping a good sleep schedule, and enjoying humor. You can read more anxiety reducing methods here.