Unlike what most of us probably heard as children, chewing gum does not say in the stomach for seven years if you swallow it.
Chewing gum is composed of basic ingredients which include sweeteners, flavouring and softening agents which give it the right texture and rubber – the base of chewing gum which gives it its elastic nature.
Rubber is either natural or synthetic and it is made of very large molecules called polymers. So what happens when we have gum and it ends up going through our digestive system?
Gum survives digestion
Mechanical digestion – chewing and biting with our mouths – cannot shred gum, so it goes whole down the digestive tract.
There, digestive enzymes break down polymeric macromolecules which constitute nutrients in order to facilitate their absorption by the body. The problem is, the body does not have an enzyme capable of processing rubber polymers.
Stomach acid is similarly unable to dissolve such big molecules. Although it is a potent substance, rubber can easily resist acid's effects.
It is therefore fair to say that part of the gum does survive digestion.This does not mean it stays stuck in our system, but will be ejected of the body in our bowel movements.