Health & Fitness

Swallowing the gum


Truth and lies about the human body. Like if you were to swallow chewing gum, would it really stay inside your body for extended periods of time.? That’s the question medical experts get frequently from people. Is swallowing the gum a good idea.? Does it really stay in your body for over 7 years.? let’s have a look at some facts.

What exactly is gum?


Most gums have things like sugars, flavoring, artificial sweeteners, and even dyes or colors. They also have something called gum base. If you were to look at the back of a wrapper or the ingredients of gum, you would see gum base on those ingredients. The problem with that is, the gum base is an umbrella term for multiple ingredients that make up that base that manufacturers do not like to list because apparently, they do not want to share their trade secrets on what makes their gum more bubbly or gooey.

So, they just say gum-based and the food administration has allowed 40+ different ingredients to be included under that umbrella of the gum base. Generally, gum base includes things like elastomers, waxes, resins, and even fillers and that is what gives gum stretchy or gooey nature. Read about the importance of water in maintaining the health of the human body.

Chewing and tasting gum

When you put the gum in your mouth, the saliva inside the mouth will help to moisturize and even soften the gum and even start to break the ingredients. Now saliva and those enzymes can definitely help with tasting the gum and flavor. After a while, gum loses its flavor, and then it truly feels like you are just munching on rubber. So, saliva and enzymes do not break down the gum base at all. We toss the gum in the garbage when we are done chewing. Most of us do it because we do not like munching on what feels like rubber. Some of us might be scared that it could stay in the stomach for over many years.

Why is gum sticky?

When we take gum out of our mouths, we have seen it stuck under desks. We have seen it on the ground and accidentally stepped on and it is impossible to get off your shoes. So, we may have this fear, “Is that going to happen in our stomachs?” Let’s just compare the environments. Suppose you throw the gum outside of your mouth. It is no longer coated in saliva or moisture and then it tends to dry out a little bit and get a little more firm. That is not going to happen when we swallow gum because as gum moves down the esophagus, it is going to be coated in mucus on its journey to the stomach.

Stomach acid and gum

Obviously, we know that chewing and the enzymes in the saliva did not do anything to break down the gum base. Inside the stomach, we have got Hydrochloric Acid (HCL) and other enzymes that are going to try to break things down. Even those additional enzymes and even the mixing nature of the stomach mix things up and even the acid does not break down the gum.

Some people might think that gum is not breaking down in the mouth, it’s not breaking down in the stomach. So, now it might be stuck there forever.

No, it is not going to happen. The stomach has the ability to mix, move, and propel things along, and eventually, the gum will make it out of the stomach into the small intestine.

Gums journey through the body

As gum gets into the small intestine, there are going to be some secretions that come in from the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder. The pancreas is going to throw pancreatic enzymes. The gum does not get dissolved by an enzyme because that gum base tends to be indigestible. Now, take a minute and just think about this for a second before we get worried about all this gum building up in us. We eat indigestible material all the time. We eat things that are high in fiber. Fiber is indigestible and it just propels things along. Anything that ends up in the toilet is essentially indigestible material.

So, gum in essence is not going to behave any differently. It is just going to move right along the small intestine, probably mixed with some other food. It will move along 21 feet of the small intestine and then it will pass through the colon and through the colon it will eventually move out of the body.

That will take anywhere from 2 to 3 days for that to happen depending on what you have been eating.

Gaint balls of gum

Swallowing just one piece of gum is not a big deal. What if you swallow multiple pieces per day.? Physicians usually come across case studies where pediatric patients or little kids swallow multiple pieces or whenever they had gum, they would eventually swallow it rather than spit it out.

There are particular cases where kinds would swallow anywhere from five to ten pieces per day. Now, in that case, it can start to build up because you are getting too much of it in there. And there are other cases where we swallow indigestible material. For example, we all swallow hairs here and there and tend to have a big deal when we swallow small amounts of hair. But, there are psychiatric disorders where people will eat their hair and will get what’s called Bezoar or Trichobezor which is a build-up of hair.

So, in certain cases, extreme cases of swallowing multiple pieces of gum, you can get a gum bezoar. That could be a problem if it causes an obstruction and a build-up. So in general, what do we take home from this.? Is it true that gum will stay in your body for several years.? No, it will not unless we have some of those extreme examples. So, if you had an occasional accident here and there where you swallowed the gum, it’s not a big deal.

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