This Is What Actually Happens When You Swallow Chewing Gum

Posted by Michael Avery in Facts and DIY On 3rd November 2016
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Almost everyone has swallowed a piece of gum, but few kids have ever needed a doctor because of it. You might have heard that swallowed gum stays in your stomach for 7 years. That's not true.

Though your stomach can't break down a piece of gum the same way it breaks down other food, your digestive system can move it along through normal intestinal activity. In other words, it comes out the other end when you have a bowel movement (poop).

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#1 Ah, chewing gum. The food that is not, in fact, food.

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#2 There are all kinds of horror stories about what happens when you swallow these indigestible lumps.

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#3 You've probably heard that the gunk will sit in your stomach for seven years.

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#4 You might even have heard that a gum tree will grow out your ears, nose, and mouth.

#5 Shoot, you might have even heard that you will fart and poop bubbles.

#6 Well, not exactly. Not at all, in fact.

Chewing gum is made of either natural or synthetic materials (gum resin), preservatives, flavorings, and sweeteners. The body can absorb sweeteners, such as sugar, and they can add up to a lot of calories if you chew a lot of sugary gum.

#7 In fact, gum moves through your stomach and intestines just like any other indigestible object.

The human digestive tract can't digest the gum resin. It's moved through the digestive tract by the normal pushing (peristaltic) actions of the gut.

#8 Eventually, it'll end up in the toilet. (Assuming you use toilets; hey, we don't judge).

The gum's journey ends during a trip to the bathroom.

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#9 Still, doctors say that you shouldn't swallow gum.

Not only is it completely devoid of nutritional value, but in rare cases, children have eaten so much that the gum has blocked their intestines.

Swallowing a large mass of gum, or many small pieces of gum over a short period of time, can block the digestive tract in rare cases. A blockage is most likely when gum is swallowed along with nondigestible materials like sunflower seeds.

But apart from these strange scenarios, swallowing an occasional piece of gum is harmless.

#10 Are Some Kids Too Young for Gum?

Kids shouldn't chew gum until they fully understand the importance of not swallowing it. By age 5, most children will understand that gum is different than candy and is not to be swallowed.

So if you have younger brothers or sisters, don't offer them gum until they're older and your mom or dad says it's OK.

#11 Should Any Kids Chew Gum?

Too much of anything can be a problem. Chewing gum is hard on dental work and most gums that are not sugar free can cause cavities. Sugar-free gum sweetened with sorbitol also can be a problem because it can cause diarrhea. Cinnamon-flavored gums of any kind may irritate the mouth lining. They can be hot and spicy in your mouth, as you probably know.

#12 Do yourself a favor and just spit the gum out.

A good rule would be to stick with sugar-free gum and don't have more than one or two pieces a day. And when you're done with it, don't swallow it. Throw it away instead!

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#13 Just make sure to aim for the trash can.

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