Heartburn can ruin a great meal in no time. The intense burning is enough for you to reach for the closest antacid. However, research shows that there might be an easy way to stop heartburn in its tracks. And it doesn’t involve popping a pill—not even a supplement.
British researchers fed 31 people meals that induced heartburn.1 After the meal, subjects chewed gum for 30 minutes. Researchers then measured acid pH levels. The people who chewed gum had significantly lower acid levels. The lack of acid offered heartburn relief.
Another study out of New Mexico found similar results.2 Researchers studied the effects of gum chewing on 12 people who suffered from acid reflux and 24 healthy people. The study lasted for three days.
In the end, gum chewing reduced acid in both groups for up to three hours. And the people who suffered from acid reflux showed to benefit even more than the healthy group.
So before you reach for a pack at the grocery store…
We’ll explain how it works and the key to making sure you aren’t making the same mistake as most people.
“Chewing gum stimulates the salivary flow rate,” explained Rebecca Moazzez, author of the first study. “Any acid that accumulates in the gut is washed away and cleared more quickly.”
Heartburn is usually a result from eating too much food, too fast. Your stomach then pushes the acid back up into your esophagus.
The saliva induced by chewing gum neutralizes the acid and pushes it back down to where it belongs.3
Antacids are the most common form of treatment for heartburn. You don’t need a prescription and they are usually effective in relieving pain. But they also come with severe side effects. Extended use of antacids may actually worsen your condition.4 They are also known to cause constipation, diarrhea, and mineral deficiencies.5 But worst of all, long-term use of antacids can potentially cause kidney failure and osteoporosis.6
Chewing a piece of sugarless gum is safe and effective. No side effects. And you get the extra benefit of helping to prevent cavities by doing it.
But be aware. Most sugarless gums contain artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and Splenda (or sucralose). And those come with a laundry list of side effects of their own. So definitely steer clear of those.
Try looking at your local health food store for sugar-free gum that uses xylitol as a sugar substitute. Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol found in plants, fruits, and vegetables. It is made from birch wood and used as medicine or as a sweetener. We recommend Spry Sugar Free Gum or Glee Sugar Free Gum. They may cost you a little more, but they are natural and worth the few extra bucks. But as always, moderation is key. Excessive gum chewing puts a strain on your neck and jaw. And xylitol, while much lower on the glycemic index than refined sugar, is still a sugar.
But next time you start to feel that awful burn, you should try to reach for a piece. Chewing gum may be one of the simplest ways to prevent and control heartburn.