Thirty years ago, chewing gum in school would get you a straight trip to detention. Now, it turns out the sticky substance does more than clean your teeth - it sharpens your mind, too.
A number of studies have shown that gum can help people stay focused on tasks for longer, enhancing concentration during memory tests.
One research that assessed its effects on audio memory revealed that the participants who chewed gum had quicker reaction times and more accurate results than those who didn't chew gum. This proved increasingly true toward the latter parts of the 30-minute audio task.
"Interestingly, participants who didn't chew gum performed slightly better at the beginning of the task but were overtaken by the end," Kate Morgan, author of the study from Cardiff University, told the British journal Psychology. "This suggests that chewing gum helps us focus on tasks that require continuous monitoring over a longer amount of time."
The researchers explained that gum increases the flow of oxygen to regions of the brain responsible for attention. More oxygen can keep people alert and quicken their reflexes. Interestingly, it's not a task that allows you to fake it 'til you make it: Research shows that people do not get the benefits by just pretending to chew gum.
Carolyne Cybulski, a pre-school teacher in Toronto, found similar results when it came to her kids. She encouraged her little ones to chew gum during the day, since it leads to less fidgeting, increased attention and lowered anxiety.
"Children learn through their senses - and oral activity can be very calming," Cybulski explained to The Globe and Mail. "The act of chewing gum also provides constant sensory input to the muscles in the jaw and ears and we find it helps children to concentrate better."
On top of brain building, sugarless gum works to remove dirt from teeth and combat bad breath
. It's sort of like taking putty and pressing it to a dirty table. Much of the debris comes up with the putty, similar to how gum's stickiness removes food debris from the mouth. Chewing gum with xylitol after meals can clean your mouth and boost your brain power!
So, whether you're studying, trying to learn the lyrics of a song or getting rid of bad breath
, you might want to throw in a stick of gum.