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This is what happens to your body if (by chance) you swallow chewing gum

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Aakash Molpariya
Aakash started in Nov 2018 as a writer at Revyuh.com. Since joining, as writer, he is mainly responsible for Software, Science, programming, system administration and the Technology ecosystem, but due to his versatility he is used for everything possible. He writes about topics ranging from AI to hardware to games, stands in front of and behind the camera, creates creative product images and much more. He is a trained IT systems engineer and has studied computer science. By the way, he is enthusiastic about his own small projects in game development, hardware-handicraft, digital art, gaming and music. Email: aakash (at) revyuh (dot) com

It’s an idea that only comes to mind when we’re kids. But what if all of a sudden one day we accidentally swallowed chewing gum?

It may seem like an idea out of a child’s mind, but who hasn’t ever thought of swallowing the gum, chewing non-stop? Boredom can wreak havoc on the population, and this is one of them, though perhaps the least; to tell you the truth, the outcome looks better than if you decide to swallow a bunch of Mentos candies and then drink Coca-Cola.

Whatever you’re tempted to take to your mouth, be careful, either by accident or by default, at any time gum can end up in your stomach. And judging by how long it takes to disintegrate and retreat from the pavement when people throw them to the ground, you probably wonder, and with a good reason, what they could do to your stomach and therefore your body in case you like its flavor so much that you can’t resist swallowing it.

So what would happen if you did? How long would it take to be digested by the stomach? What are the symptoms you’d notice right after? Could you keep going to the bathroom regularly? The magazine ‘Eat This Not That’ has raised these issues and asked a number of experts to know in-depth what would happen if you swallowed this sweet just made to chew.

It doesn’t dissolve

As with any other meal, the stomach goes to work and digests the gum. But not all its components. “The chewing gum base does not dissolve, like some vegetables if we eat raw, such as corn,” explains Nancy McGreal, a gastroenteologist at Duke University Health. “Our bodies do not have digestive enzymes to break down these specific types of foods.”

In normal digestion, enzymes break down carbohydrates into glucose, proteins into amino acids, and fats into fatty acids. Throughout the digestive tract, different bacteria will collect nutrients and begin transporting them through the blood. It is when insulin hormone is put to work to digest all glucose, amino acids and fatty acids and take it to muscles or tissues to burn it as energy or store it in fat form.

What about gum? While the body can digest the high amount of preservatives, sugar and sweeteners, chewing gum cannot be dissolved. In that case, it will cluster to the remains of the stomach and move through your intestines until you throw it out, just as it came in. But no, the assumption that it may stick to stomach or intestinal walls is false, as the stomach secretes corrosive acids to make digestion that prevent it from sticking to the surface of the organ and staying there. Only in very rare cases can it lead to intestinal blockage.

“It’s a very isolated case, but if a lot of gum is ingested it can lead to constipation, especially in children,” says Elizabeth Rajan of the Mayo Clinic. “This is why children should be discouraged and banned from eating gum and swallowing it.”

In fact, there is a very curious scientific article published in the journal ‘Pediatrics‘ in 1998 documenting the case of a boy who ate more than seven gum every day. 

What happened? He was reporting constipation problems for more than two years and finally had to undergo surgery to unblock such a blockage. Obviously, this is a very isolated case, but it still attests to what would happen if by accident or omission your young child swallows all the chewing gum.

How long does it take to leave your body? 

According to experts from Yale University, between 40 hours to seven days. 

“Gum is quite immune to the digestive process,” acknowledges David Milov, a pediatric gastroenteologist at a children’s clinic in Orlando, Florida. 

“It will probably go slower than most foods, but over time the substances that clean the digestive tract will push it out without discomfort.” 

Of course, if you have a fondness for swallowing this chewing ball, it goes without saying that you expose yourself to all kinds of stomach ailments: diarrhea, constipation or nausea.

They can become frequent if you include chewing gum in your diet. But fortunately, that does not have to happen, and the most likely fact is that the fact only comes to you in the form of a childhood memory.

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