Do you remember hearing the age-old myth that if you swallow your gum, it'll stay in your stomach for seven years? In this article, we'll dive into the science behind what really happens when you swallow gum. Dispelling myths with facts and insights, this article gives you a complete understanding of the potential effects of swallowing gum on your body.
The Journey of a Chewed Gum
When you swallow a piece of gum, it's true that your body can't digest it. While your body can fully digest and extract nutrients from most of the food you consume, gum base is resistant. Despite this fact, the gum doesn't stay in your stomach for seven years. Instead, it moves relatively intact via normal digestive processes to be excreted as waste.
Effects in the Short Term
Most health professionals agree that occasionally swallowing gum poses no immediate, serious health risk. The gum, despite not being digestible, does not stay in the body long enough to cause harm. It also does not stick to the walls of your intestines or stomach. However, your body's effort to move the undigested gum can sometimes cause minor symptoms like bloating, constipation, or abdominal pain.
While the occasional swallowed gum is generally harmless, chronic, frequent ingestion might lead to complications. As per a study from the Pediatrics International journal, repeated swallowing of gum can potentially lead to intestinal blockage, especially in children. A habit of swallowing gum combined with the consumption of other indigestible materials like sunflower seeds could lead to serious problems requiring medical attention.
Can Swallowed Gum Be Dangerous?
Typically, swallowing gum is harmless. Most people who do so don't experience any negative consequences. Even so, there have been a few reported cases where it has led to complications, such as bowel blockages. This occurs when individuals regularly swallow many pieces of gum over a short time span.
To Swallow or Not to Swallow
While swallowing gum isn't as harmful as many believe, it's generally better to avoid it when possible. Not only because it can lead to unexpected complications in rare cases, but also because it has zero nutritional value. Gum manufacturers make it clear that their products are meant to be chewed, not swallowed. So in the end, it's best to spit it out after some time of enjoyment.
Finally, the seven-year myth is debunked. Swallowing gum won't lead to it taking residence in your stomach for seven years. Nor is it typically harmful. Nevertheless, it's not something health professionals recommend due to its limited potential for harm and its lack of nutritional benefits. As with most topics related to health and nutrition, moderation is key. It's always a good idea to take these insights into account to ensure you maintain a healthy lifestyle.