Early Humans Chewed Gum

ancient gumAnother amusing “primal” tidbit, everyone: early humans chewed gum. Archaeologists have found a 5,000-year-old piece of preserved tree gum with clearly imprinted neolithic teeth marks. The gum is birch bark tar, which exerts an antiseptic effect on tissues. It’s likely that early humans chewed the phenolic tar to stave off gum infections. Move over, Trident.

Further Primal Health Reading:

Spoutin’ Off on Veganism (Again)

Even if the Shoe Fits…Forget It

44 Low-Carb Recipes for Vegans and Carnivores Alike

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About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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12 thoughts on “Early Humans Chewed Gum”

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  1. Some natural toothpastes and gum contain birch sugar. Is that the same thing?

  2. Question: is chewing gum good for relieving stress or does it aggravate the jaw muscles/tendons? (Or did I just answer my own question…moderation.)

  3. I knew our ancestors chewed gum, I just knew it.

    Agree with Sara, as one has to use moderation.

    On a side note, The new Wrigley gum, “5,” is indicated to be sugarfree, contains Sugar Alcohol and aspartame.

    Can someone explain the difference between sugars and sugar alcohol.

  4. Alcohol sugars are great, aside from the fact that they give you gas. 😉

    They are still carbs, but because they do not appreciably spike blood sugar (glycemic index), they’re considered o.k. for diabetics and those on the low-carb lifestyle. However I don’t know that they still wouldn’t impact insulin; alcoholics are prone to diabetes, aren’t they? I know Mark is in the midst of working on a big piece about insulin index vs. glycemic index in the coming weeks so I don’t want to slaughter it. Not sure about the exact science. At any rate, I think it’s best to eliminate sugar cravings as much as possible, but I personally use a little Splenda and don’t think it’s the end of the world if you eat things with alcohol sugars now and then. But that’s just me.

  5. (not that Splenda is a sugar alcohol; my point was that a little bit of “cheating” now and then with sugar substitutes is okay in my book. Not everyone feels that way.)

  6. Oxybeles~
    Sugar alcohols are not sugars or alcohol. They are used to replace sugar lowering calories and the effects on blood sugar. A lot of sugar free gum and candy use sugar alcohols. (malitol, sorbitol, lacitol, erthritol, etc.) If it ends in “ol”, good chance it is a sugar alcohol. It is not absorbed in the intestines which can lead to stomach upset, diarrhea, bloating, etc. Everyone reacts differently but I try to avoid these. The packages really should have a bigger warning sign since some people become very ill from eating sugar free candy!

  7. Sorry Sara, didn’t see you there. Some sugar alcohols do impact insulin. To me it’s not worth the bloat. Others have no reaction. Why?

  8. I have never been a big fan of alcohol sugars (they usually taste REALLY fake to me) but there is pretty decent research on safety.

    Meanwhile, when I was a kid growing up in Maine, we used to chew gum made from pine tree pitch that had dried/hardened on the tree. Tasted “medicinal” and was more a badge of courage than any intent to “double one’s pleasure.”

  9. I am reminded that it was “spruce” – not pine – gum, for what it’s worth.

  10. Back home in Russia you can buy ‘zhivitsa’, which is basically pine or cedar resin you can chew like gum, and it does everything regular gum does (prevents cavities, freshens breath), and also supports healthy gums, and has no sweeteners, artificial or real, whatsoever. I wish they’d bring it to London…