What is sticky, comes in many flavors and has been around since prehistoric times? Chewing gum! This popular, moldable treat has received a bad rap throughout the years because people thought it harmed the digestive system. However, there is no evidence to support the idea that it can stay inside your system for 7 years.
“This is folklore,” UAMS gastroenterologist Dr. Farshad Aduli says. “The digestive system has difficulty digesting chewing gum, but the gum doesn’t stay in the stomach or the rest of the digestive system. It progresses through the digestive system like other food material.”
It is believed that this myth came from the fact that gum-chewing was once seen as an activity only for the lower class of society.
Gum, made of a mixture of natural and synthetic gums and resins, with added color and flavor sweetened with corn syrup and sugar, is not detrimental to your system if swallowed. The only part of gum that can stick around in your stomach is its base, which is made of chemicals that gives gum its chewiness.
In very rare cases, “swallowing multiple pieces regularly could result in food impaction, constipation or bezoar formation particularly in children,” Dr. Aduli says. Bezoar formations are masses formed by the compaction of foreign materials such hair and sticky materials such as gum. They are usually found trapped in the stomach or gastrointestinal system and can cause indigestion, upset stomach or nausea.