Those who usually consume chewing gum can mistakenly swallow chewing gum. But what really happens to the body in this case? Some experts clarify.
Many adults and children love to chew so-called American gum or gum gum. We know very well that once you lose the flavor or when you are tired of chatting, it is not good to swallow chewing gum. But what actually happens once the chewing gum has entered our body?
Can it live in the stomach for hours, days or even weeks? Does it obstruct the intestinal tract? Will it stick to the stomach walls like it does to the bottom of shoes? And, in the end, will it cause harm to the body?
Some international experts explain what really happens.
- The body gets to work digesting it
- It can rarely cause intestinal blockage in children
- It can cause various ailments and pains
- How long does it take for chewing gum to pass through your body?
The body gets to work digesting it
Many myths contain a basis of truth, including the one that claims that chewing gum swallowed stays in the body for 7 years. The truth in this case is that the body cannot digest all the chewing gum. As Nancy McGreal, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Duke University Health explained:
“The chewing gum base is insoluble, just like the fibers from raw vegetables, corn, popcorn kernels, and seeds. Our bodies do not have digestive enzymes to specifically break down this base ”.
Most of the ingredients in chewing gum can be easily broken down by our digestive system. These include sweeteners, flavorings, preservatives but, as Dr. McGreal pointed out, the problem is the gum base that our body cannot break down.
This base gets confused with the other things that are inside the stomach but, don’t worry, it won’t stick to the walls and move towards the intestine along with all the rest of the food and with the same speed.
Most people empty their stomachs 30 to 120 minutes after eating. The rubber therefore takes the same time.
It can rarely cause intestinal blockage in children
“On very rare occasions, large amounts of ingested gum combined with constipation have blocked the intestines in children. It is for this reason that frequent swallowing of chewing gum should be discouraged, especially in children, ”said Elizabeth Rajan, MD, of the Mayo Clinic.
In an article published in the journal Pediatrics, there was a case of a child who ate more than 7 chewing gum every day and suffered from constipation for more than 2 years. Eventually his situation required the need for surgery to remove the obstruction.
These are obviously very rare cases, easily avoidable if we do not allow children to eat American gum often or at least being careful that they do not swallow them.
It can cause various ailments and pains
Regardless of age, those who repeatedly ingest excessive amounts of chewing gum, Healthline researchers warn, are likely to start suffering from a range of painful ailments such as abdominal pains, chronic constipation, diarrhea and mouth ulcers.
Chewing gum repeatedly can also cause jaw and teeth problems.
How long does it take for chewing gum to pass through your body?
If we swallow a gum, it passes through the esophagus and stomach and then arrives in the small intestine. Here sugars and nutrients are absorbed while the indigestible part of the chewing gum reaches the colon. Through the rectum and feces we can eliminate it.
According to Dr. Daniel S. Murrell, the gum does this all in less than seven days. Experts from Yale University agree: a piece of chewing gum generally doesn’t stay in the body for more than a week.
To sum up, the occasional ingestion of chewing gum is not harmful, but it would be wise to avoid making it a habit. Beware especially of children who may take the idea of frequently swallowing chewing gum as a game.