Finally: the truth about how your body digests gum.
Sure, gum is meant to be chewed, not swallowed—but hey, accidents happen! Your mom probably admonished you that swallowed gum could get stuck there for years (for some reason, seven years is the number thrown around over and over). But, come on. That can’t be true, right?
Chewing gum is usually made of a combination of natural or synthetic materials (gum resin), preservatives, flavorings, and sweeteners. While your body will happily soak up the sugar and other digestible ingredients (which can add up to a lot of calories if you don’t opt for sugar-free gum!), you can’t digest the gum resin.
The good news, however, is that even though your body doesn’t want it, that gum resin is NOT sentenced to seven years in your tum-tum. After you swallow gum, it usually continues its journey right through your digestive tract, and in a few days, comes out the other end.
This doesn’t give you a pass to swallow gum on the regular, though. If gum swallowing becomes a habit, it could cause constipation or even block the digestive tract (admittedly, in rare cases). This is especially a concern for young children, who may not know that gum isn’t supposed to be swallowed or who can’t help themselves and swallow it anyway.
So chew on this, and stick to your gum’s intended use.
Chewing gum bezoars of the gastrointestinal tract. Orlando, FL: Nemours Children's Clinic, Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, 1998. (Accessed on January 10, 2018 at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9685468)
Swallowed or Inhaled Objects. East Lansing, MI: University of Michigan, 2017. (Accessed on January 10, 2018 at http://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/swall)
What Happens to Swallowed Gum? Nemours, Kids Health, 2014. (Accessed on January 10, 2018 at https://kidshealth.org/en/kids/swallowed-gum.html)