We’ve all seen the gum lining our sidewalks at school. We may have even seen it, sadly, stuck to the bottom of our shoes. One place you will never see gum, however, is sitting in your stomach.
Despite popular belief in the myth that gum will sit undigested in your stomach (possibly for forever), gum manages to pass through your system. Most ingredients in gum, like flavoring or preservatives, can be broken down in your digestive system. The one part of gum that is indigestible is the gum base. Originally, gum was made from the sap of a sapodilla tree, but when popularity (and inevitably, demand) increased, tree sap just wasn’t cutting it, so manufacturers switched to synthetic polymers. Don’t be alarmed though, the FDA would never let gum companies sell an indigestible, potentially dangerous product. So even though gum can’t be digested, it won’t sit in your stomach for more than a week.
How? Your stomach passes other similar foods without digesting them either. One example is corn. Swallowing a small piece of gum can be passed the same way as a kernel of corn. However, it is not advisable to continually swallow gum or swallow large amounts. Although a little bit of gum can be passed easily, large quantities can lead to intestinal blockages, especially for kids. An excess of gum chewing or swallowing can lead to issues like abdominal pain, chronic constipation, gas, diarrhea, mouth ulcers, jaw and/or dental problems.
In conclusion, gum may be stuck in places like your braces or the bottom of your desk, but not your stomach. Most of us have swallowed gum at least once in our lives, but now you know better than to freak out about it. Hopefully, you are a little wiser about your chewing habits now, too. More information about the gum in your gut can be found at http://www.healthline.com.
By: Becky Wood
Photo Credits: woub.org