If you were particularly bummed to have to cut out diet soda while on the 123Diet, let me introduce you to your new best friend: sugar-free gum! The biggest benefit of the sweet snack substitute is perhaps the most obvious; once a piece of gum is in your mouth, you'll think twice about chowing down on a piece of food!

Though it may seem paradoxical that sugar-free gum is allowed on the 123Diet while diet soda is not, the ingredients used in these two products are usually very different. While most diet sodas are sweetened with controversial aspartame, most sugar-free gum is sweetened instead with natural sugar alcohols like xylitol, isomalt, maltitol, mannitol, and sorbitol.

Popping in a piece of sugar-free gum is a good way to signal to yourself that it's the end of the meal and to stop yourself from craving dessert and other extras afterwards. Gum can also keep you from snacking while cooking and help you be around sweets in situations like parties and pastry-packed breakfast meetings without giving in.

The act of chewing gum can reduce your appetite, might increase your metabolic rate, and can burn up to 10 calories per hour. This wouldn't be enough to add up to weight loss in the absence of a healthy diet plan, but it should be more than enough to make up for the trace amount of calories (usually less than 5) found in the gum itself!

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Next, while most diet soda is very acidic and thus terrible for your teeth, chewing gum might actually give your smile a boost! Chewing gum increases the flow of saliva through your mouth and around your teeth. Since saliva contains basic components like calcium and phosphate, it can help neutralize the acids that are naturally released when food is broken down in your mouth.

Chewing gum can also help dislodge food particles left between your teeth after meals and break up cavity-causing plaque. Plus, some sweeteners used in gum, like xylitol and sorbitol, can even have an antibacterial effect.

Chewing gum can also combat dry mouth and bad breath, which you may sorely need if your 123Diet meals have been rich in healthy but pungent herbs and spices like garlic!

You still might want to beware of certain potentially harmful additives in your sugar-free gum, and of varieties that do contain aspartame. This list of gum products that have the ADA (American Dental Association) seal of acceptance could be a good place to start.

Chewing gum can also be good for your brain! Studies have found reduced levels of stress and cortisol in gum-chewing subjects, as well as that chewing gum can increase blood and oxygen flow to the brain, especially when that gum has a pleasant flavor!

This in turn can lead to improvements in test performance and memory, with these effects being strongest right after chewing. Finally, if you're really looking for a brain boost, there are some varieties of caffeinated sugar-free gum available!

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Gum chewing might also help prevent ear infections or quit smoking. However, it does have a few downsides. Chewing too much gum can cause you to swallow more air, which can lead to bloating. It can also exacerbate jaw problems and lead to tension headaches.

You should also be aware that intake of the natural sweeteners found in sugar-free gum can also sometimes have a laxative effect. If you consume them in large amounts, this can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort and diarrhea, but if you stick to small doses, a little sugar-free gum may actually help out if you've been experiencing constipation!

Sugar-free gum is a cheap, easy, craving-crushing option that could be a great addition to your dieting arsenal. Just make sure you're chewing your gum in addition to your healthy snacks and meals rather than instead of them, as well as in addition to a proper dental hygiene routine rather than instead of brushing and flossing.

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