Thursday, February 13, 2014

Gum Elements That Create Gastric Distress And Difficulty In Breathing

Common chewing gum ingredients are safe in moderate quanitites.

All chewing gums have the same basic types of ingredients: gum base, softeners, sweeteners and flavoring. Some gum ingredients, when consumed in large quantities, have been linked to symptoms of gastric distress.

Gum Base

Gum base is made from a non-nutritive, non-digestible, water-insoluble substance like rubber or latex. Most modern gums are made out of synthetic rubber. If gum is swallowed, the non-digestible gum base is passed through the digestive system and out of the body in a bowel movement. However, a large mass of gum swallowed in a short period of time may potentially block the digestive tract and cause intestinal problems.

Gum Softeners

Softeners are added to gum to help retain the moisture in the gum base. Moisture keeps the gum from becoming hard or crumbly. Glycerin or vegetable oil bases like corn oil are the most popular gum softeners. It is reported in the Iowa State University Material Safety Data Sheet, that ingestion of large amounts of glycerin may cause gastrointestinal irritation.

Gum Sweeteners

Gums are generally sweetened with sugar or sugar syrups. Sugarless gums replace sugar with sugar alcohols, which are also known as polyols. The most popular polyols are sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol. According to a report published in Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, polyols in excessive quantities may contribute to gastrointestinal upsets, including abdominal discomfort, flatus (gas) and diarrhea.

Chewing Gum and Aspartame

Another common sugarless gum sweetener is aspartame. Aspartame contains the amino acid phenylalanine, which should not be ingested by people with phenylketonuria (PKU), a disease that prevents metabolization of phenylalanine. Rumors also link aspartame to a diverse selection of other health problems, such as asthma, difficulty breathing and headaches. However, the American Dietetic Society, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and other health organizations have discounted these rumors; legitimate scientific studies have been unable to link aspartame to any serious side effects.

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