teethEver have those days when you’ve got to muster way more brainpower than you have?

You probably do during the first few days of your period as a result of low estrogen combined with a dip in iron due to blood loss. Or during your drowsy Week 3 as sedating progesterone rises. Or during your premenstrual Week 4 when estrogen makes a mad dash for the border.

Right now in my premenstrual Week 4, my plunging estrogen has me scraping the bottom of the barrel of my mental pep. Which is a bummer since I’ve still got a lot–and I mean, a lot–of writing to do for articles for my editors, the new Hormonology book and other Hormonology projects.

On top of all that, I recently quit caffeine. That’s right. I. Quit. Caffeine.

(How my eyelids are even open right now is a total mystery.)

Luckily, I remembered reading about a new study in the journal Physiology & Behavior that shows an easy way to get a temporary boost in brain energy: Chew gum!

Doesn’t matter what flavor the gum is, whether it has sugar or is sugar-free or if it has that ooey gooey green liquid breath freshener in the middle.

Turns out, the simple act of chewing heightens alertness and sharpens focus, giving you a bit more mental oomph when, say, driving, doing bills or writing your magnum opus. (Which in my case would be my forthcoming Hormonology book–seriously, it’s awesome.)

How’s it work? Well, the jury is still out on the exact mechanisms that make gum so effective at waking you up. Some researchers speculate it may be that chewing sends more energizing blood to the brain; others theorize that chewing activates parts of the brain responsible for alertness.

No matter what makes it work, this is the most recent in a spate of studies that prove gum’s ability to revive your brain, so I’d say it’s fairly reliable.

In fact, I’m trying it right now as I write this Hormonology tip. And, I have to say, it may be the one reason I haven’t face-planted into a nap right on my space bar.

Hope this little tidbit helps you on low-pep days!

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