We’ve all been there – that moment of panic when you accidentally swallow a piece of chewing gum. Immediately, a flood of questions rushes through your mind, the foremost being: How long will the gum stay in my stomach? Many of us have heard the age-old adage that gum takes seven years to digest, but is there any truth to this claim?
Let’s get right to it: The seven-year gum myth is nothing more than an old wives’ tale. According to Simon Travis, a professor of clinical gastroenterology at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, the origins of this myth are shrouded in mystery. He humorously suggests that it may have been perpetuated by parents who simply wanted to discourage their children from chewing gum. In reality, swallowing gum is far less dramatic than this myth suggests.
Professor Travis explains that swallowing gum is only harmful to the body if done excessively, and such occurrences are exceedingly rare. He defines excessive gum swallowing as three or more pieces of gum per day. Unless you’re actively trying to set a world record for gum consumption, the occasional swallowed piece poses no real threat to your health.
Dr. Aaron Carroll, a distinguished professor of pediatrics and chief health officer at Indiana University, has devoted his career to debunking health myths. He concurs with Professor Travis, affirming that swallowing gum won’t do you any harm. However, he doesn’t exactly endorse it as a healthy practice.
“The truth is,” says Dr. Carroll, “chewing gum has no nutritional value whatsoever.” He goes on to explain that gum is primarily composed of gum-based sweeteners, flavorings, and scents. The gum base itself consists of a mixture of elastomers, resins, fats, emulsifiers, and waxes. In other words, chewing gum is essentially a blend of synthetic chemicals and artificial flavors – hardly a nutritious addition to your diet.
So, while you don’t need to fret about gum lingering in your stomach for seven years, it’s important to remember that chewing gum is not a dietary staple. It’s best enjoyed in moderation and alongside a well-balanced diet. As Dr. Carroll suggests, “There are far healthier ways to satisfy your taste buds and keep your mouth occupied.”
In conclusion, the seven-year gum myth can be put to rest once and for all. Swallowing the occasional piece of chewing gum may not harm you, but it certainly won’t benefit your health either. So, next time you accidentally swallow your gum, take a deep breath and rest easy – your stomach will digest it just like any other food, and you can continue to enjoy your gum in moderation.