When I was a kid chewing gum was a semi-sinful food. Apparently the threat of having it stuck under a desk or somebodies shoe was enough to create a freakishly long list of rules regulating its consumption. But alas gum is much more than just a public nuisance.
A new study from Swinburne University in Melbourne Australia has shown that chewing gum can help relieve stress and anxiety. And that’s not all, gum chewing can also help you focus while multitasking according to the new research findings.
The study was conducted by splitting the test group into two. One group was allowed to chew gum while taking what amounts to a stress test. But this was not the treadmill test you’re thinking of. This stress test is based on doing several tasks at once while the level of stress is turned up over a short period of time.
The other group was given the same tasks but not given any chewing gum. After the test wrapped up their were some interesting results. The most important statistic for our purposes was the drop of anxiety in the gum chewers, in this case there was a 17% drop in anxiety when compared to the non-gum chewers.
One of the ways that the researchers knew there was less anxiety in the gum chewers was not just by asking the participants. They actually measured the amount of cortisol in their saliva and found that cortisol levels were much lower in the gum chewers.
Cortisol is a stress hormone and is present in higher levels when we get anxious or stressed. Based on these findings anxiety is lowered on a chemical level and not just because you’re distracted from all the mouth movement.
Although this study seems promising I did find one thing that created some skepticism in me. The test was conducted using a total of 40 people with an average age of 22. Now when it comes to any study I would hope to see greater numbers and a greater age disparity to gain a more realistic snap shot of society.
I’d like to see more studies done before I buy this one fully however the results do seem at least somewhat promising. Ironically whenever I chew gum I feel more frenzied and geared up, but maybe I am confusing focus for something else.
I’ll do my own experiment. I’ll chew gum over the next week or so while at work and see what I find. This isn’t to say that I never chew gum while working, but now I’ll have an eye toward how calm and focused I am while I chew and work.
Remember that if you want to embark on your own chew test to use sugar free gum. You don’t want to rot your teeth while you seek serenity inside a gum wrapper.
Do you think chewing gum can reduce stress and anxiety or is this corporate propaganda? Let me know.