Nugget of Knowledge: Swallowing gum


Is there truth to the statement that swallowed gum will sit inside you for seven years?

(WYTV) – Do you ever hear that warning that you shouldn’t swallow your gum because it might sit inside you for seven years?

Any truth to that?

Think of the digestive system like a conveyor belt.

Whatever you eat moves through your intestines at roughly the same speed, and anything your digestive system doesn’t break down and absorb into your bloodstream passes out the other end.

This usually takes one to three days.

Chewing gum cannot stick to your wet intestinal wall, so a single piece swallowed will get swept along with everything else.

There are a few cases in which small children swallowed many pieces of gum that formed a lump too large to pass. That’s constipation and pain and possible surgery.

But what if your swallowed gum somehow got trapped, would it take seven years to digest?

Chewing gum is 70 to 85% sweeteners, flavorings and starch, and we can digest those.

But the 15 to 30% left is a blend of synthetic polymers, often including a rubber tough enough to seal a chemistry lab flask, tough enough to store hydrochloric acid that is 30 times more concentrated than your stomach acid.

So if you could somehow withstand severe constipation, the gum would likely last at least seven years.

Chewing gum can help you concentrate, although we’re not sure how.

It may be that when you move the gum around your mouth with your tongue and jaw, you occupy parts of your brain that might otherwise get distracted.

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