So, You Swallowed Some Gum. What REALLY Happens Doesn’t Take “7 Years!”

The urban legend says that if you swallow your gum, it will stick to your guts practically forever. 2 years, 5 years, or 7 years, the amount of time varies from story to story, but the sentiment is the same: don’t do it. “It’ll cause damage, you’ll be constipated, it’s so bad for you!” But will it really? The answer is a lot more practical than just “it’s bad.”

Dr. Lisa Ganjhu, a gastroenterologist answered the question that you didn’t even know you wanted to ask – “What happens when I swallow bubble gum?”

Your GI tract is very strong — if it can digest a tough steak, it can digest gum.”


Everyone’s digestive system is different, of course, so it will take a different amount of time from person to person, but in the end, that gum will eventually come out just like everything else that we eat. But what is the main difference between that gum and a steak? Steak will break down into proteins, fats, and other useful nutrients while a piece of gum will remain relatively untouched. It won’t be broken down because your body knows that there isn’t anything of value in it.

It isn’t dangerous, but it puts a little bit of a strain on your digestive tract with no benefit. Don’t swallow an entire pack, of course, but one piece every now and then won’t stay inside of you for 7 years! Isn’t that good to know?

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