Chew Gum to Ease Heartburn
Though gum may not seem useful for anything but blowing bubbles and freshening breath, it can actually be a valuable tool for those who suffer from acid reflux. Research shows that a humble stick of chewing gum can go a long way in relieving the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), making it a potentially potent remedy to anyone who experiences regular acid reflux and heartburn.
Why Does Gum Help with Heartburn?
As we chew gum, we produce more saliva and swallow more frequently, which can help us wash digestive acids from the esophagus back into the stomach. Saliva is also alkaline, which means it has the ability to neutralize the acids that cause heartburn.
Multiple studies have confirmed these beneficial effects. In one study, participants who had complained of heartburn were asked to eat a large meal of things like full-fat cheese and full-fat milk, and some were asked to chew sugar-free gum for half an hour after the meal. Researchers found that the gum-chewing group had significantly lower acid levels in the two hours after their meal, despite eating fatty foods apt to trigger higher acid production.
In another study, researchers looked at some participants who had been diagnosed with GERD and others who were healthy. For both groups, chewing sugar-free gum for an hour after a large breakfast was shown to reduce acid reflux for as long as three hours, and was especially effective in the GERD group.
What Gum Works Best?
Because mint is a common reflux trigger, mint-flavored gums are best avoided by reflux sufferers. Chewing sugary gums won’t cause reflux, but can damage tooth enamel and lead to cavities. Regular sugarless gum was used in the studies mentioned above, and there’s some evidence that sugar-free bicarbonate gum can help us even more.
Though normal gum increases our levels of salivary bicarbonate, which makes our saliva more alkaline, bicarbonate gum can do this even more effectively. Bicarbonate gum can often be found in the dental care or toothpaste aisle of pharmacies.
You may not have used gum for anything more than bad breath in the past, but the next time you’re going through a bad bout of heartburn, this handy reflux remedy may be well worth trying.