Countless people have heard the myth that if you swallow a piece of gum, it takes seven years to fully digest. Others claim that swallowing chewing gum can take quite a toll on your digestive system. But is swallowing gum really that bad for you? The truth doesn’t quite match up with the myth, plus there may be some benefits to chewing gum that you were not aware of before.
If you chew gum regularly, odds are you may have accidentally swallowed a piece at some point in your life. The common myth is that when a piece of gum is swallowed, it will take the person’s body seven years to digest it. The idea of having a glob of chewing gum sitting in the pit of your stomachs is an uneasy thought for most, but the good news is that this myth has been totally debunked by scientists.
(For more fun, health-related myths, read about the 7 Worst Weight-Loss Myths For Your Body.)
According to Scientific American, the rumor of taking seven years to digest gum is not true in any way. It’s extremely rare for doctors to find pieces of chewing gum in the digestive tract. Furthermore, if they do come across some gum while performing a colonoscopy or endoscopy procedure, the gum has usually been swallowed within the past week as opposed to months or years beforehand.
Gum isn’t the most easily digested food, however. Most of it does stay intact when passing through the digestive system. Only a few components in most chewing gums, such as sweeteners, are able to be digested. The rest of the ingredients – like resins, preservatives and natural or synthetic elastomers – stay relatively intact and pass through the system. Typically, gum stays in the digestive system only a little longer than most foods due to its largely indigestible composition.
Many people are surprised to learn that there are actually numerous health benefits associated with chewing gum, including:
(For more information regarding tooth decay, read The Main Causes Of Cavities And Tooth Decay.)
Chewing gum does pose a few minor health risks. To be safe, do not do the following when chewing gum:
There are certain things to look for in your gum if you want to get the health benefits described above. Make sure you choose a sugarless gum which is sweetened with non-cavity causing, artificial sweeteners. You can also look for gum products which have packaging that says they can help reduce plaque or prevent tooth decay. For the best results, choose a gum that has the ADA seal on it.