The World Around Us

Chemicals in Food

What will happen to the gum I just accidentally swallowed?

When you were a kid, your parents or teachers probably told you (or at least they told us!) not to swallow your chewing gum because it would take years to digest. Actually your body can do just fine with digesting the flavor components, sugars and sweeteners, and softening ingredients in chewing gum. It’s only the gum base that you cannot digest. However, just because you cannot digest it does not mean it will stay around in your body for several years. The gum base will just typically pass through your digestive system in just a few days’ time. But please don’t try to swallow a bunch of gum at the same time, though—it can get stuck and cause all sorts of problems.


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