For as long as I can remember I’ve always made sure I’m not the girl with the bad breath and have always chewed gum or mints-most especially after drinking coffee as I’m not a big fan of the after taste nor coffee breath. Fresh breath, sugar-free, healthy gums and teeth are what I had in mind when I’ve added mints to my shopping list.
These days when I look through the supermarket aisle I’m presented with a huge range of mints and gum. The certain type that seems to have increased in popularity lately are the mints that come in the handy metal tins. I’m not exactly sure why these have appealed to me but I’ve been buying them for a while now.
However, lately I’ve been thinking more and more about just how many tins I’m going through and how much waste I’m creating for the earth. I feel better when I always make sure I place them into the recycle bin, but I’m still not happy with my decision to go through so much waste.
I’m writing this as I myself explore natural alternatives along the way. For the past few years I have adapted the mindset where I live as close to nature as possible and am continually looking for ways in which to improve my daily habits. Below I explore what’s actually in my little tin of mints.
Looking at the front of the tin I’m happy to see the mints are 99% sugar free and peppermint flavor. Turning the tin over to the side panel I’m greeted with the following:
Peppermint Oil (1%)
Anticaking agent (470)
Natural Colour (153)
After the most basic of research it’s pretty clear to see I’ve fallen victim to some great marketing techniques utilised by mint and gum companies, whereby they are able to get away with listing their product as “sugar free” or “99% sugar free” but still use a sugar by-product. Sucralose or sweetener 955 is a sweetener that’s doing just as much damage, if not more damage than sugar itself.
Many reported side-effects include blurred vision, weight gain, gastro problems and migraines. While it’s a sweetener commonly found in larger products such as ice cream, beverages and confectionery, you might think that with the small amount of mints and gums you consume in a day that you won’t be affected by these side-effects. If I personally think about the days where I’m habitually sucking on mints then I want to put myself on caution.
As sucralose is artificial and produced in a chemical plant, it’s not natural, nor does the body recognise it and therefore we are unable to process it or metabolize it. Unfortunately very few studies have been carried out on humans but typically have been carried out on animals-namely rats.
The effects of 955 on rats being enlarged liver and kidneys, red blood cell count decrease, aborted pregnancies and an obvious drop in fetal weight. The effects of sucralose on the body are more closely reported on by The Sucralose Toxicity Information Centre although the studies are last updated around 2008, they still give us a fair insight into the dangers of consuming products containing this sweetener.
Acesulfame K or sweetener 950 is yet another version of sugar, reportedly being up to 200 times sweeter than sugar on its own-a figure hard to divulge! Studies carried out on laboratory rats call for a reassessment of the safety of this sweetener for human consumption due to potential cancer risks being identified.
This is most likely due to Acesulfame being a potassium salt that contains methylene chloride-a known carcinogen often found in pain strippers, electronics and paints. Side effects of consuming Acesulfame is a reduction in the good bacteria in your gut of up to 50%. This is rather disturbing as your body relies heavily on gut health for overall health. Other side effects include dizziness, respiratory problems, weight gain and migraines.
Unfortunately any studies carried out on humans (limited) show little impact of this chemical on the body as the trials have never been carried out for any longer than four days. If only data existed to show the effects of a lifetime of consumption of this sweetener.
Another sugar alcohol that is slowly metabolized by the body. It is the main ingredient that is linked to diarrhea, therefore many gum or mint companies will place a warning on their packet to the effect that excess consumption may have a laxative effect.
Sorbitol is commonly found in dieting products and is heavily linked to a large range of abdominal issues including bloating, increase of stomach acid and heartburn. I know if I consume too many mints throughout the day I have mild abdominal pain which I can only link to their intake. While sorbitol isn’t as nasty as sweeteners I still would want to limit the intake of products containing it.
My newly discovered alternative
If you’re anything like me, you want a breath freshener that’s convenient and you are able to use on the go. That’s probably why you are also buying mints or gum (or were!) and that’s why the marketing for these products are so successful
Looking into healthy alternatives, Mukhwas is the little spice mix often displayed at the counter when you pay for your meals at Indian restaurants, often with a small wooden spoon resting in the bowl.
It contains an array of nutritious seeds and spices, used as a breath freshener or after dinner mint and also to aid digestion. After searching around for a recipe, I found countless varieties and was taken back by its historic origins throughout many cultures around the world. Such a simple and natural alternative!
I’m going with the singular selection of just one of the ingredients commonly found in the Mukhwas, whole cloves as they seem like the best size spice to have on the go.What’s more, cloves are packed full of nutrients such as magnesium, vitamins A, E, D & K and zinc- to name just a few.
They aid in digestion, reduce flatulence and nausea. Cloves also boost the immune system, are anti-carcinogenic and contain certain flavonoids that assist in healthy bones by preserving bone density. There are many reasons why cloves are great alternatives to mints or gum:
-Like ever lasting gobstoppers you can suck on a clove for hours and it won’t perish.
-Cloves have a mild, warm and sweet after taste.
-They have great antiseptic properties which is handy in general, but also if you feel a cold coming on suck on cloves throughout the day to prevent a full blown sickness.
-When you’ve finished you can just throw the clove back to the earth where it came from.
-I noticed a rather calming effect on my mind.
-Inexpensive and plentiful.
-I’ve decided to store my cloves in a cute twist top container with hand painted lines drawn around the outside.
That’s a wrap
As with most man made products the problem is that so little study has been carried out as to the long term effects of the use of artificial products in our every day living. If anything presents a potential risk, especially to the level of being carcinogenic and has had basic research revealing damaging effects to the body then I want to be avoiding putting that product anywhere near my body.
The potential dangers of Sucralose: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2000/12/03/sucralose-dangers.aspx
Complete list of sweeteners: https://liveto110.com/complete-list-of-artificial-sweeteners
Aspartame cancer hazards: http://science.naturalnews.com/pubmed/18085058.html
Methylene Chloride: https://www3.epa.gov/airtoxics/hlthef/methylen.html