Chewing Gum for Weight Loss, Ginger and Digestion, Diet and Psoriasis

Q: Can chewing gum help you lose weight?
Q: Does ginger promote digestive health?
Q: Does diet have any effect on psoriasis?

Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN
American Institute for Cancer Research

Q: Can chewing gum help you lose weight?

A: While it may help some people, don’t count on it as a major weight loss strategy. Studies suggest that chewing gum can burn about 11 calories an hour. So, theoretically, if you chewed gum 11 hours a day, you might lose an extra pound a month. The bigger benefit, however, comes when chewing gum serves as a replacement for overeating. Gum may help those who tend to eat out of boredom or anxiety. It can also stand in for dessert, providing a pleasant, sweet taste after a meal. But remember: If you chew a lot of sugar-containing gum, the calories can quickly add up at 7 to 10 calories per stick. In addition, the constant sugar bath is not good for your teeth. Sugarless gum is a far better choice. If you find that chewing gum helps in your efforts to establish healthy eating habits, great. But don’t fall for unsubstantiated advertising claims that special “weight management gum” with added ingredients can lead to superior weigh loss results.

Q: Does ginger promote digestive health?

A: The health benefits of ginger have long been promoted in traditional Asian medicine, but not all of the health claims are supported by solid research. Although ginger does seem to reduce pregnancy-related nausea, it does not necessarily relieve nausea from motion sickness or cancer chemotherapy. Claims that it counteracts diarrhea and constipation may be true, but again, there is little scientific evidence. Ginger seems safe when taken in small amounts, with only a few occasional side effects such as gas, bloating and heartburn.

Q: Does diet have any effect on psoriasis?

A: Psoriasis (sore-eye-ah-sis) is a skin disease that features itchy patches of thick, reddened, scaly skin. Susceptibility to psoriasis is inherited, but several factors can influence its development, including stress and infection. These factors can also affect when symptoms come and go. Diet may also help decrease symptoms. Because psoriasis is linked to inflammation, eating a diet rich in foods that combat inflammation is helpful. Including plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans, which supply a wide range of antioxidant vitamins and phytochemicals, may be beneficial. Adding sources of omega-3 fat in the diet can also help suppress inflammation. Choose fish high in omega-3 fat (such as salmon, trout and albacore tuna) at least twice a week and enjoy plant sources of omega-3s as well, like walnuts, flaxseed and canola oil. Avoiding certain foods may also help. Some people who suffer from psoriasis are intolerant to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Symptoms may improve in these people if they follow a gluten-free diet. Others may find help from vitamin D, which promotes immune function and regulation of cell growth. Vitamin D is sometimes an ingredient in skin creams that are used as a part of treatment, and some scientists suggest that getting adequate vitamin D may help even prevent psoriasis. Finally, some forms of psoriasis that are common among overweight men and women have shown improvement when these people cut calorie consumption to achieve a 5 to 10 percent weight loss.

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