May 22, 2003 - Chewing gum after meals may not only freshen your breath, but it could help fight acid reflux and heartburn symptoms. A new study shows chewing gum after a big meal can reduce acid levels in the esophagus and may aid in preventing gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Researchers say chewing gum is known to stimulate saliva flow, and previous studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum after meals can help prevent cavities by lowering acid and sugar levels in the mouth.
To see if the same acid-reducing principle would apply to preventing acid reflux, British researchers tested the idea on 21 people with GERD. People with GERD commonly experience heartburn and chest pain after eating due to stomach acids that rise into the esophagus.
The patients were given a GERD-inducing high-fat meal on two different days and instructed to chew gum for 30 minutes on either the first or second day. Researchers then measured acid levels in the esophagus for two hours following both meals.
The study showed that acid levels following the heavy meal were significantly lower on the occasions when the participants chewed gum than when they did not.
The findings were presented this week at Digestive Disease Week in Orlando, Fla.
Researcher Rebecca Moazzez, of Kings College in London, UK, and colleagues say the results show that chewing gum for 30 minutes after a potentially troublesome fatty meal can reduce acid exposure in the esophagus and help reduce heartburn symptoms.
SOURCE: Digestive Disease Week, May 17-22, 2003. Orlando, Fla.