Too much sugarless gum can hurt you

 
By Carrie Johnson • Published: July 26th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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Is there a more harmless treat than sugarless gum? It doesn’t have calories to add inches to your waistline. Nor does it have sugar to rot your teeth. But, like most other things in life, too much of a good thing isn’t always so good for your health. And that’s true for sugarless gum, too.

In fact, recent studies show that chewing excessive amounts of sugarfree gum can lead to severe diarrhea and weight loss. The problem is sorbitol, a type of artificial sweetener used in many sugarfree gums and candies. In larger quantities, sorbitol actually acts as a laxative.

After sorbitol is ingested, it moves through the gastrointestinal tract, acting as a sponge and pulling water out of the intestinal walls. This creates an excess of fluid in the bowels, which can lead to diarrhea and a host of other unpleasant symptoms.

Depending on how much gum you chew, taking in too much sorbitol could eventually lead to severe weight loss or even malnutrition. Of course, scientists say the sensitivity to sorbitol varies from person to person. While some may experience tummy troubles after chewing just a few sticks, others might be able to plow through a pack of gum with no ill effects. Generally, though, you’re entering the gum danger zone if you start chewing about twenty pieces a day.

Still, there’s no reason to put the kibosh on sugarless gum altogether. In fact, studies have shown that chewing a piece of gum before an afternoon snack might actually help some people lose weight. Researchers say gum can help reduce hunger and even diminish cravings.

So don’t throw out your pack of gum or boycott the gum aisle in the store. Just take it easy. And if you have any concerns or experience any symptoms, be sure to consult your doctor.