During my playing career, I was definitely a pack a day guy. I might go through 10-15 during every nine inning game. Cigarettes? No. Chewing gum.
I wasn’t alone. Look around the league and you’ll see endless examples of dudes chomping while manning their respective positions. It’s just habit for us. For me, it actually goes back even farther. I was thumbing through an old yearbook the other day while cleaning out my storage room and came across a girl who signed my yearbook (sigh) busting my chops for snapping and popping my gum at my desk. It wasn’t allowed in class, but perhaps I was crazy like a fox.
There’s no question that chewing gum is a lot better for you than some of the other traditional vices like chewing tobacco. It certainly offers some benefits. From wired.com
Gum is an effective booster of mental performance, conferring all sorts of benefits without any side effects. The latest investigation of gum chewing comes from a team of psychologists at St. Lawrence University. The experiment went like this: 159 students were given a battery of demanding cognitive tasks, such as repeating random numbers backward and solving difficult logic puzzles. Half of the subjects chewed gum (sugar-free and sugar-added) while the other half were given nothing… Those randomly assigned to the gum-chewing condition significantly outperformed those in the control condition on five out of six tests.
That was me. Up to the plate I roll, chewing like a horse. You think I became a .268 career hitter through sheer pitch recognition? Not a chance. I believe wholeheartedly that chewing gum improved my concentration. That “without any negative side effects” bit though? Not so much.
We know that gum generally has either loads of sugar (say it with me: fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar makes you fat) or, if you get the sugar-free kind, artificial sweeteners. Don’t think that those sweeteners aren’t getting into your system. From Mensjournal.com:
Even though you don’t swallow gum as you do food, you still ingest whatever ingredients come with the wad. “While chewing a piece of gum, you swallow your saliva several times,” Shelke says. “That saliva is a solution of all of the soluble ingredients in the gum.
There are those who trumpet the dental benefits of xylitol and swear by sweeteners like stevia as alternatives to aspartame, sorbitol and countless others. However, these additives may be impacting your waistline more than you would like. From USNews:
In a world without artificial sweeteners, a taste of something sweet preps the brain and the gut for digestion of incoming calories. When the calories don’t show, as happens with artificial sweeteners, those metabolic responses don’t fire the way they should. Insulin doesn’t increase; hormones that increase the feeling of fullness and satisfaction aren’t triggered; and the brain doesn’t get a feeling of reward from the dopamine that sugars release. After a while, Swithers said, it’s like the mouth keeps crying wolf, and the brain and gut stop listening. As a result, when real sugar and real calories come along, the body doesn’t respond to them as strongly as it normally might. Calories don’t end up making you feel as full as they should. They aren’t as rewarding. So you don’t get the signals that might stop you from eating when you should.
You know me. I get something in my head and I end up going mad scientist on y’all. I still adore chewing gum, and I couldn’t stop thinking that there had to be a way to get the mental benefits from chewing gum without putting a lot of artificial stuff into my body. I’m going to try out this recipe and see how it goes.
You’ll want to start with some natural beeswax.
- Place 6 oz of beeswax into a double boiler (or a bowl set on top of a pot filled with about an inch of water) and turn the stove to medium high.
- Melt the wax until it is soft and mostly liquid.
- Add your flavorings. Try peppermint, cinnamon, lemon, or licorice. 5 drops of extract should be enough. Alternatively, you can use fresh, finely chopped herbs (rosemary, mint).
- Pour the wax into small molds (candy molds or ice cube trays work well)
- Refrigerate until hardened, then remove and chew.
I’m going to try this with zero sweeteners, artificial or otherwise, and will likely use fresh peppermint or spearmint for flavor and nutrition. From Harvard Health Publications:
Peppermint is also an age-old herbal medicine that has been used to treat a wide range of abdominal woes, from flatulence to stomach cancer to gallbladder disease. But does it really work? Peppermint has fared a bit better than many herbal medicines in clinical trials. Several studies have shown that peppermint oil seems to be fairly effective at relieving irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a collection of symptoms that includes abdominal cramping and pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.
I’ll get the mental and dental benefits of gum, no sugar or artificial sweeteners, and some helpful benefits for my digestive system. I don’t need sweet, I just need to chew. Boom. You with me?