Chewing Part 1: Why You May Be Addicted to Chewing (Gum)

Do you feel like you're a constant "snacker" even when you're not hungry? Are you an avid gum chewer? Or do you find that you constantly need to chew gum or keep your mouth entertained? 

Well, in this blog I hope to discuss not only why you may be craving that stimulus, but also some considerations why you may want to swap the gum for some mobility.

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Chewing can actually be thought of as a survival behavior. It actually stimulates six of the twelve Cranial nerves!

Cranial nerve I: Olfactory

Cranial Nerve V: Trigeminal

Cranial Nerve VII: Facial

Cranial Nerve IX: Glossopharyngeal

Cranial Nerve X: Vagus

Cranial Nerve XII: XII Hypoglossal

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So everytime you’re chewing you’re activating all of these nerves, providing your brain with information, knowledge and reps.

So maybe the urge, need or habit created around chewing has been a survival response to potentially one or more of the following:

  1. Lack of integration from one or all six of the cranial nerves

  2. Lack of movement, sedentary lives can lead to poor brain activity and the body starts to respond with urges to do improve activation ex. Chewing more gum

  3. Poor respiration patterns (breathing mechanics)

  4. High stress (light exposure, lack of sleep, inflammatory diet)

  5. Poor proprioception (lack of awareness of where you are in relation to what is around you)

So the next time you find yourself chewing more and more gum to keep your mouth moving I’d suggest the following:

  1. You may be lacking oxygen, lie down and practice some slow breathing techniques (slow count in of 3 seconds and slow count out for 3 seconds)
  2. You may be over stressed, take a moment to hum along to your favorite tune. Humming is a great way to stimulate cranial nerve X, the vagus nerve.

  3. You may need movement and more proprioceptive feedback (click the link below to a video tutorial on toe flexion/extension waves)

  4. You may just need to stand up take a short walk to break up your work day

  5. You may need to take a break from staring at your screen, or better yet I’d suggest investing in some blue blocking glasses.

Remember that any pattern or intuitive habit you have is more or less a clue. I would encourage you to bring awareness to what you’re body is trying to tell you. Pause, reflect and trust that it’s giving you a clue.

Thank you!