Want to improve your health? And get yourself smarter and harder? Well, the latest research shows that gum chewing could be a simple lifestyle change that could help with all of these.
Here's just a few examples:
1) Cortisol Reduction. Gum chewing is one of the few things that can actually reduce the testosterone-lowering stress hormone cortisol.  This will protect and possibly even boost your testosterone and it will also potentially protect your neurons from the nerve-killing power of cortisol. This is good for two very important things to most guys: their brain and their sex life.
2) Increased Alertness and Mental Performance. Of course, Peak Testosterone readers are about as intelligent as they come, but chewing gum may actually make a few of you more more smarter. That's right - chewing gum increases alertness and other factors that researchers observed lead to "improved intellectual performance".  Not bad for such a simple and inexpensive habit, eh?
3) Increased Neuron Activity. You want to be firing on all cylinders when it comes to your brain, right? Well, reserachers discovered that many key areas of the brain light up when when the jaw starts moving on a good piece of gum.  This included the ceribellum, thalamus and parts of the cortex.
4) Increased Brain Blood Flow. Chewing in general and gum chewing in particular are known to increase brain blood flow.  So pass on the gingko and pop the chiclets.
So is there a catch? Why would anyone in their right mind not chew gum all day? The problems is that almost every advantage above will be completely undone by the fact that Excitotoxins (from aspartame) are added to almost every major brank of gum sold today. It is difficult, although not impossible, to find gum without aspartame.
This will very likely undo any gains that you have achieved from the gum chewing itself. The problem is that aspartame breaks down into aspartate, which is an actual neurotransmitter used by the brain and hypothalamus. Pumping even minute amounts of this into your neurons can be devastating and is not worth the risk.
NOTE: To find out how excitotoxins from aspartame cause problems for both your brains and hormones, read these links on Testosterone and Excitotoxins, Excitotoxin Syndrome, Excitotoxins and the Blood-Brain Barrier and Excitotoxins in Fast Food.
What is the answer? Well, there are a few gums sweetened by good, ol' fashioned sugar. Unfortunately, this will likely lead to gum disease, which is correlated with cardiovascular risks. Fortunately, it is looking like a very safe sweetener is xylitol, a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that has studies showing it fights cavities and osteoporosis. Furthermore, it may even boost immunity and help the body ward off various infections.
Finding xlylitol-based gums is not impossible, but requires some research and a little extra cash. Again, check to make sure that the package does not say aspartame, Equal, Nutrasweet or "contains phenylalanine". (Phenylalanine is a breakdown product of aspartame.)
1) Physiol Behav, 2009 Jun 22, 97(3-4):304-12, Epub 2009 Mar 5, "Chewing gum alleviates negative mood and reduces cortisol during acute laboratory psychological stress"
2) Nutritional Neuroscience, Apr 2009 , 12(2):81-88, "Effects of chewing gum on mood, learning, memory and performance of an intelligence test"
3) J Dent Res, Nov 2002, 81(11):743-6, "Mapping brain region activity during chewing: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study.
4) J Am Dent Assoc, 2008, 139(suppl_2):6S-8S, "Gum chewing as an adjunct to use of medications"