According to British research, the act of simply “chewing gum,” could make us smarter, enhance our memory, and improve the functioning of our brains. A joint study done by the University of Northumbria and the Cognitive Research Unit, Reading, found that “chewing gum” has beneficial effects on our “thinking, memory and other cognitive tasks.” The results of the study were extremely clear and showed that chewing-gum definitely helps to improve brain functioning!

Scientific research of gum-chewing”

The Experiment:

To research how gum-chewing affects the brain, scientists conducted some quality experiments. The experiments involved 75 who were split into several different groups: non-gum-chewers, real gum-chewers, and fake gum-chewers. Prior to undergoing a 25-minute test for cognitive abilities, the two chewing groups (real gum-chewers and fake gum-chewers) spent just 3 minutes working their real or imaginary gum around their mouths. Scientists stated that the cognition-tests included questions relating to: short-term memory (such as recalling words and pictures), and working memory (the ability to retain a person’s telephone number).

The Results:

The gum-chewers’ scores were 24 % higher than the controls’ on tests of immediate word recall, and 36 % higher on tests of delayed word recall. The gum-chewers were also more accurate on tests of spatial working memory. They also found that people who chewed throughout tests of both long-term and short-term memory produced significantly better scores than people who did not. Scientists said that, “the heart rate of the real gum-chewers after the tests was, three beats per minute faster than the non gum-chewers, and even 1.5 beats per minute faster than the fake gum-chewers.”

“The findings are intriguing, although it is clear that questions remain to be addressed,” says Kim Graham of the Medical Research Council’s Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, UK.

Does the type of gum make a difference?

Peppermint gum, menthol, or spearmint–it makes no difference. This means that you could chew any type of gum that you choose. Even baseball players chewing the sugary Bublicious and Big League Chew type gum can improve their brains by “chewing gum.” Though it may be best to kill 2 birds with one stone by fighting bad-breath to improve the scent of your mouth and your brain, you will still benefit from chewing any type of gum!

So how exactly does chewing gum help boost brain power?

There are three main potential explanations, say scientists. In March 2000, Japanese researchers showed that brain activity in the hippocampus, an area important for memory, increases while people chew – but it remains unclear as to why activity increases.

Recent research has also found that insulin receptors in the hippocampus (the part of the brain that is important for learning and memory), play a role. “Insulin mops up glucose in the bloodstream and chewing causes the release of insulin, because the body is expecting food. If insulin receptors in the brain are involved in memory, we may have an insulin-mediated mechanism explaining our findings – but that is very, very speculative,” scientist Andrew Scholey says.

But there could be a simpler answer, though. “One interesting thing we saw in our study was that chewing increased heart rate. Anything that improves delivery of things like oxygen in the brain, such as an increased heart rate, is a potential cognitive enhancer to some degree,” Scholey said.

They further stated that, “the mild increase in heart rate may improve the delivery of oxygen and glucose to the brain, enough to improve cognitive function.” Many scientists also believe that chewing gum releases a surge of insulin due to the mouth watering in anticipation of a meal, thus resulting in a better brain. It is known that there are insulin receptors in areas of the brain which are important for learning and memory, so this could explain part of why gum-chewing actually boosts the brain!

Future research of gum-chewing

It is apparent that scientists need to do some more research in this field. There is too much information that scientists cannot seem to figure out about the brain boosting process. Though chewing gum definitely boosts brain power, science has not figured out how it does this. Scientists have explained, though, that the research of gum-chewing in relation to brain power is only in its early stages. Hopefully, they start making some more progress because everyone seems to agree that the brain boosting potential of “gum chewing” is amazing and that any future advancements / discoveries could be ground-breaking!