Does gum stay in my stomach if I swallow it?

Robynne K. Chutkan, MD
Most of us have been warned at some point in childhood not to swallow gum because it stays in your intestines for 7 years. As a gastroenterologist who spends a lot of her time knee-deep in the digestive tract, I'm happy to tell you the only time I've ever encountered a piece of gum was in the stomach of a patient who swallowed it immediately before his endoscopy procedure.

Gum is sticky and made up of a lot of chemicals, but it's not really any different from any other synthetic foods we eat on a regular basis. Although some of the ingredients are not well digested (glycerin, sorbitol, mannitol, artificial flavoring and preservatives), the stickiness of gum doesn't mean it sticks to the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. In fact, it passes out in the stool without any difficulty.

Still, the foundation of a healthy diet is to maximize fruits and vegetables and minimize edible food-like substances. So, when it comes to gum -- chew but don't swallow!

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.