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Want to know what REALLY happens when you swallow your gum?

Posted August 3

Is there a giant gum wad sloshing around in your stomach? We're here to reveal the truth. (Deseret Photo)

Raise your hand if your mom (or dad) warned you about the perils of swallowing gum?

You’ve likely heard all the rumors. Like, if you swallow it, the gum will stay in your stomach for seven years – or worse – never come out.

As a child I was convinced that eventually I would swallow so much gum that it would eventually build up in my stomach and start coming up my throat. Ew.

When you hear rumors like this, you do all you can to avoid swallopwing that delicious bubble. But, accidents happen! Is there truly someone who has never, EVER swallowed his or her gum?

Maybe you gulped to hard and down it slid. Or there’s no good place to throw it away, and you don’t want to be the person responsible for a gooey mess ending up on someone’s shoe.

And other times, you just get so excited, it accidently slips down your throat.

So … are we all doomed? If you swallow gum, does it stay in your stomach for seven years?

Well, great news gum swallowers – it doesn’t. (Although it’s still not recommended that you swallow it.)

“It is true that most of the components of bubblegum are not found in nature," gastroenterologist Robynne Chutkan told WebMD. "And as such we don’t have the enzymes to break them down. But eventually gum does get through the intestine and into the colon, where it is mixed with stool and then excreted."

And that “eventually” doesn’t mean seven years. At most it could take about three days, but likely will come out in one. It's not going to get stuck to your intestines or find all the other swallowed gum friends to combine into a giant throat-climbing wad.

Since gum offers no nutritional value, it’s pretty pointless to swallow. Only the carbohydrates from the sugar are digestible. The rest are unnatural ingredients that your body can’t do anything with. This is likely where the rumors about it staying in your body for so long come from.

So, yeah, swallowing gum won’t kill you, but it makes your stomach work extra hard to digest something that gives you no value.

EMAIL: alovell@deseretnews.com

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