Chewing gum is how we usually refer to our enjoyment of this gooey, rubbery and flavorful bubble that we blow. We do not eat it and we usually do not swallow it because rumor has it, this gum takes 7 years to digest. But is it true, or is it just another myth trying to scare the kids and the children-at-heart ? And for someone who isn’t really a fool and just accidentally swallowed a gum, how long does gum take to digest then?
The truth is a chewing gum simply resists the digestive system’s attempts at dissolving and breaking it down. However, this does not mean that it’s going to stay inside a person’s stomach for seven years; not even seven days will do.
A chewing gum is mainly made of gum base that is a non-digestible and non-nutritive water-insoluble delivery system used to carry substances such as a bubble gum. This rubbery quality that composes 15 to 30 percent of a chewing gum makes it impossible for a human body to break it down into smaller pieces. What comprise the remaining 85 or 70 percent are the added vegetable oil derivatives, artificial sweeteners and colorings, preservatives, sugar, and saccharin or corn syrup. These are the rest of the gum’s content and they are the only components that the body digests when a gum is swallowed. Unlike the gum base, these ingredients can be easily broken down by the saliva, stomach and intestines.
Though the gum base cannot be digested by the body, it still has to pass through the rest of the digestive system before being eliminated as a regular waste. The only difference is, unlike most foods, a gum passes through to the other end of the digestive tract intact. Probably after 6 to 12 hours (the range it usually takes for a human digestive system to process whatever it is we eat), one can find the gum expelled just as it is.
So whether you consciously or unintentionally swallow a chewing gum, there isn’t really any need for you to worry. As long as your digestive system still functions normally, then you can’t expect your gum to stay inside the tract forever. However, it is still not advisable for anyone to swallow gum anytime. Making a habit out of this may open a whole new range of complications. But when you swallowed a gum at a certain time, don’t fret. It will come out, not after seven years, but in due time.