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This may be the strangest recommendation in the dietary section. I did not believe it was true until I read the research. One study stated:

"Interestingly, food texture also has an impact on adult hippocampal neurogenesis; rats fed with a soft diet, as opposed to a solid/hard diet, exhibit decreased hippocampal progenitor cell proliferation.”

The authors hypothesize that chewing resulting in cell proliferation is related to corticosterone levels. Interestingly, independent studies have also shown impairment in learning and memory abilities associated with soft diets, and multiple studies support this research.

Scientists believe the reason behind this quirky driver of cognitive function is chewing. The act of chewing improves neural growth. This would mean chewing gum improves cognitive function. Is it a coincidence that recent research suggests just that?

A study conducted by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine discovered that chewing gum raised adolescent math scores. The study included 108 students between the ages of 13 and 16. Some students were instructed to chew sugar-free gum during math class, while doing math homework, and during exams. Other students were instructed to completely refrain from chewing gum. The students that chewed gum scored significantly higher on math exams than the students who did not, and their standardized math scores were 3% higher. An article on discusses the results.

A second study conducted at Louisiana State University found that chewing gum decreased hunger cravings and resulted in people eating fewer high calorie snacks. This is great news. You do not have to differentiate between soft and hard foods, just chew gum between meals. Chewing gum provides two distinct benefits. It will improve cognitive function and reduce hunger cravings in those restricting their diet.

Optimizing the content of your diet, practicing dietary restriction, and chewing gum will boost neurogenesis, improve survivability of new brain cells, and enhance synaptic plasticity. These changes could make a bigger difference than you would expect.