Chewing gum makes you alert and reduces stress
If you chew on chewing gum during stressful events, you'll reduce your cortisol production. What's more, you'll feel better, according to a study done by researchers at the Northumbria University in England, which has been published in Physiology & Behavior.
The researchers subjected forty students to tests that were guaranteed to raise their stress levels. They alternated between an easy test [low module intensity] and a more difficult test [high module intensity]. The subjects also alternated between chewing gum and not. Before and after the tests the researchers measured the cortisol concentration in the men's saliva and also asked them about their mood.
Chewing gum made the men calmer, less stressed and more sure of what they were doing. They also felt more alert. The figure below shows how the students' alertness changed during the test. The black bars represent the gum chewers.
The saliva of the gum chewing subjects contained less cortisol after the test than before. This effect is shown above. Chewing gum therefore blocks cortisol.
The gum chewers completed the tests a tiny bit better than the non-chewers. The difference was just significant, but pretty small.
The researchers suspect that the process of chewing stimulates the flow of blood to the brains. That would explain the effects they measured.
The second author of the study, Crystal Haskell, reported a month ago at the annual congress of the British Psychological Society that drinking hot chocolate, which contains high levels of flavanols, increases the brain's ability to do mental arithmetic. [nutraingredients.com 07-Apr-2009] Like chewing gum, doses of five hundred or a thousand milligrams of cocoa flavanols increase the flow of blood to the brain.
Physiol Behav. 2009 Jun 22;97(3-4):304-12.
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