That Clean ...Risky?! Chew
May 13, 2014 6:58 PM   Subscribe

I need to get more fit. Part of it has to be done by controlling my intake. I've had success in the distant past with gum. But now I'm worried about the non-sugar sweeteners that most use - sorbitol and xylitol. Should I be?

Sorbitol, of course, has a laxative effect, controlled by moderation. But other effects are difficult for me to separate from all of the woo-woo out there when I try to do web searches on it.

Xylitol has loads of great benefits if consumed in specific therapeutic dosages, but I remember a few years ago that a study was released saying it could be associated with stomach cancer, too. Searching for those data has also been fruitless because of woo-woo.

What I need, then, is some kind of definitive line on either/both so that I can consume these appetite-tamers in peace*.

ALSO! If there's a gum alternative (clean, cheap, non-messy, very little waste that's easy to dispose of, light, easy to carry around, unobtrusively consumed) that doesn't use any sweeteners, I'm extremely open to that option.

* As illogical as it may sound to not resort to something so obviously helpful, I live with OCD and these kinds of personal risk things set me into a kind of analysis paralysis where I end up continuing obviously unhelpful behaviours because their risks are more familiar. I'm working on that in other ways, but need a shortcut to making what should be a simple decision. If neither end up being a good idea, I have other options - I just need to rule these in or out.
posted by batmonkey to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I found cinnamon tea tree toothpicks to be helpful in controlling appetite.

Here is a study that finds xylitol to be perfectly safe in applications (sprays, rinses, toothpastes, gels) used for treating dry mouth. Here is another study that finds aerosolized xylitol safe to inhale.

Take care of yourself.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 8:58 PM on May 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

What about small squares of clean white baking paper?
posted by Jilder at 3:06 AM on May 14, 2014

Response by poster: The studies cited are for xylitol applications that don't produce nearly the levels of physical consumption and internal contact as gum, so still 50-50 on that.

Paper is definitely not going to work for me - interesting idea, though.

Toothpicks. I'll have to ponder starting up with those again. Can't use them in meetings, way more difficult to tuck away if someone starts talking to me, doesn't really satisfy chewing urge (splinters) ... but if nothing else comes up, might add as an emergency option.

If anyone has anything else, I'm very interested.
posted by batmonkey at 4:59 AM on May 14, 2014

posted by oceanjesse at 7:26 AM on May 14, 2014

I ordered a few sticks of miswak after reading that question last year. Even if you end up not liking it so much (some like it, some don't), they're great for camping or guests.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:28 AM on May 14, 2014

Response by poster: Checked that previous question. Hard or non-consumable is kind of going in the opposite direction of what will be most helpful. Should have detailed that specifically, sorry.

Maybe there's a safe, non-toxic, unflavoured chewable wax-like thing? I guess that would be the next closest thing?
posted by batmonkey at 8:52 AM on May 14, 2014

Best answer: The digestive effects of the sweeteners tend to become... apparent pretty early on in their usage. You could buy one pack of gum and see how you do on it.

And while as a risk assessor I generally avoid these things partially because I don't see a benefit for myself in them, using them to benefit your health (and doing so, presumably, for months, not decades) is likely to be an overall benefit to your health without appreciable risk.
posted by ldthomps at 9:07 AM on May 14, 2014

Maybe there's a safe, non-toxic, unflavoured chewabled wax-like thing?
I like to chew on the wax casings that those little cheeses come in. I have no idea if it's safe for consumption and all that. It does satisfy some of my oral fixation urges, but it also sticks obnoxiously to my teeth. You could try a different type of wax, like the kind people with braces use. I'm not sure if you've tried this, but they also make all kinds of teething jewelry meant for mothers to wear that is safe for the baby to grab and gnaw on. The one I linked is silicone, but I know there are other styles that are stone pendants, so you might be able to find something you like depending on your substrate preferences.
posted by gumtree at 12:27 PM on May 14, 2014

I am just checking that you're aware the average piece of chewing gum has 7 calories, 2 grams of sugar and 2 carbs. I understand wanting to regiment and control intake, but I wonder if you can't just account for the 10 or 20 or whatever pieces of gum you consume daily in your eating plan.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:40 PM on May 14, 2014

Response by poster: Yep, totally aware.

Calories/carbs aren't an issue. Sugar is, for multiple reasons.
posted by batmonkey at 2:29 PM on May 14, 2014

Best answer: I know someone who soaks chia seeds in water for this purpose. Apparently they turn to a gel-like substance and can be chewed for quite a while.
posted by waterisfinite at 4:51 AM on May 15, 2014

Response by poster: I looked up the chia gel thing and it looks like a good option for work and those late-night writing sessions.

So, I'm going to end up with a mix of things:
Chia gel
• Toothpicks
• Xylitol gum in strict moderation (the sorbitol doesn't seem to offer enough benefits to be worth the weird taste)

Thanks, all!

(but if anyone finds this in the next 360 days and knows about that one study where they said xylitol can cause stomach cancer, I still want to know!)
posted by batmonkey at 7:40 AM on May 16, 2014

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