Ahhh, the many choices we have when deciding on a gum to buy. Cinnamon, Winterfresh, Spearmint, Peppermint, Classic Bubble, Sweet Watermelon, Mixed Berry, Cinnamon Roll… The list goes on and on. If you chew gum to help keep your breath fresh, you probably stick with the minty flavors. But for some, chewing gum is just a habit, and those crazy new flavors like Butter Popcorn, Cheesecake, Caramel Apple and Banana Cream might just sound extra appealing.

You may think that chewing gum is a harmless habit, especially if you’re opting for sugar-free gum instead. But the truth is that chewing gum — even if it’s sugar-free — is affecting your health in more ways than one.gum

1. Gastrointestinal Problems

Chewing gum causes you to swallow excess air, which can lead to abdominal pain and bloating. When you chew gum, you’re sending your body a signal that food is about to enter the body. Enzymes and acids are activated to digest food, but there’s no food present. This can cause bloating, an overproduction of stomach acid, and it can compromise the body’s ability to produce sufficient digestive secretions when you actually do eat food.

2. Tooth Damage

If your gum of choice contains sugar, you’re basically giving your teeth a sugar bath while you chew, which can contribute to tooth decay. If you prefer to chomp on sugar-free, your gum most likely contains acidic flavorings and preservatives that can lead to dental erosion.

3. Aspartame

Most sugar-free gum contains an artificial sweetener known as aspartame. Aspartame is metabolized into wood alcohol (a poison) and formaldehyde (a carcinogen used as embalming fluid). This sweetener has been linked to birth defects, cancer and brain tumors.

4. Titanium Dioxide

If you’re a fan of chewing gums that whiten teeth, your gum of choice most likely contains titanium dioxide. It’s used as a whitening agent, and it’s been linked to autoimmune disorders, asthma and Crohn’s disease, and it may also be carcinogenic.

5. BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)

BHT is banned in many other countries due to its toxicity. In the United States, it’s often used as a preservative in chewing gum and other processed foods. It’s been linked to kidney damage, liver damage, hyperactivity in children, and it may be carcinogenic.

Natural Breath-freshening Remedies

The list of health risks associated with chewing gum continues. It can cause jaw muscle imbalance, release mercury into the body from fillings, cause headaches, and let’s face it — We never really know what toxic ingredients may be in our favorite chewing gum. Whether you’re chewing gum as a nervous habit, or trying to keep your breath fresh throughout the day, there is a natural solution to both that might work for you.

1. Cardamom

Cardamom is a spice with a pleasant aroma and flavor, and it’s found in the form of a small pod with black seeds inside. Chew on a few of the seeds to make your breath smell clean and spicy.

2. Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus is often used in mouthwash for a fresh, minty scent. Make a homemade mouthwash from one cup of water and 1-5 drops of eucalyptus oil.

3. Parsley

Parsley can freshen your breath after a meal. Simply chomp on a few leaves after eating to get rid of the food smell and replace it with a fresh, clean smell.

4. Anise

If you like the taste of licorice, you’ll like anise. Chew on the seeds or simmer three tablespoons of anise seeds in water for 3-5 minutes. Cool, strain and use as a mouthwash.

5. Dill

Drinking dill tea or chewing on a couple of seeds after eating a meal will help freshen up your breath. The seeds are flavorful, and the leaves have a soft, sweet taste.

6. Fresh Mint

Fresh mint will do just what it says — make your breath fresh and minty. Just chew on a few leaves to reverse bad breath.

7. Cloves

For a spicy aroma, chew on a few cloves. Cloves are also antibacterial, and clove oil can be used as a natural remedy for a toothache.