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Does it Really Take 7 Years to Digest Gum?

Scientist have taken a better look into the truth of swallowing gum.
Is it true that gum takes 7 years to digest?
Is it true that gum takes 7 years to digest?

Have you ever heard the old saying that if you swallow gum, it’ll stick around in your stomach for seven years? It’s a tale as old as time, passed down from one generation to the next. But let’s dive into the truth behind this age-old myth and see what science has to say about it.

What really happens when you swallow gum? (Source:

Dr. McGreal, a seasoned expert in gastroenterology, assures us that the idea of gum lingering in your stomach for years is nothing more than a myth. Our bodies typically process food within a couple of hours after eating, and gum is no exception.

Contrary to what you might have heard, gum isn’t broken down by the enzymes in your stomach. Instead, it behaves much like the fibrous parts of vegetables or seeds—our bodies just don’t have the tools to digest it fully. But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that gum stays stuck inside you forever. It simply passes through your system and comes out in your stool, just like any other indigestible bits.

Even if you have a condition like gastroparesis, where your stomach doesn’t empty as it should, gum won’t be camping out in there for years. Dr. McGreal, drawing from her extensive experience, hasn’t found any gum hanging around during her examinations of patients’ digestive tracts.

Now, what about the potential harm of swallowing gum? While it won’t wreak havoc on your insides like you might fear, Dr. McGreal advises against going overboard with sugar-free gum. Those artificial sweeteners can cause some unpleasant side effects if you swallow too much—think nausea, diarrhea, and headaches.

As for where this seven-year myth came from, it’s hard to say for sure. Maybe it was parents trying to discourage their kids from swallowing non-food items. Whatever the origin, science tells us a different story.

In the end, the idea that gum takes “seven years to digest” is just a tall tale. So, if you accidentally swallow your gum, don’t sweat it. It’ll make its way through your system and out the other end sooner than you think. Remember, it’s always good to chew responsibly, but there’s no need to fret about the fate of that swallowed gum—it won’t be lingering in your stomach for nearly as long as folklore would have you believe.

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