Almost every single child is told at one point or another told not to swallow their gum.
The most common reason given for this is that the gum would sit in the stomach for about seven years before it would then get passed properly by the body.
One of the fear tactics used on children is to tell them that the gum will grow into a “gum-tree”, similar to how a watermelon seed will grow into a full-sized watermelon.
Of course, as adults, we all know that this is just a myth concocted to ward children off of swallowing gum.
In reality, gum takes only about a week to pass through the intestinal tract and not the seven years we all came to understand as true.
Let’s take a closer look at what happens when you do swallow your gum.
1. Since gum is made out of synthetic material, the crushing power of your teeth is going to have no effect on the substance.
This is the same for the enzymes and proteins in your saliva that are meant to break down food; they have no effect.
Therefore, when you swallow the gum, the entire thing will go down in one complete lump or wad.
This also means that it will move through your digestive tract in the same manner.
2. Once the gum hits the stomach, the acids that would typically break down all of the food you have consumed will be no match for the rubber-based gum.
Now, if there are artificial sweeteners, sugar, and flavors that are still in the gum when it hits your stomach, these will get broken down.
However, the synthetic portion isn’t digestible at all.
3. Now the gum may sit around in the stomach for a while, but after about 1 week, the stomach will empty it into the small intestine.
This is where it would move on to the colon.
4. Once the colon has gone through its process, the gum will be passed in your stool.
The only thing you have to keep in mind is that since the gum cannot be broken down by the body if you swallow too much of it in a short period of time, you could end up with intestinal obstruction.
This occurs when you have swallowed too much and it has combined into a bezoar or a small mass of indigestible material.
This will cause a blockage in your intestinal tract which can cause extremely uncomfortable stomach aches and constipation.