Expert debunks 'old wives' tale' about what happens when you swallow gum
| Last updated
We've all been there - that feeling of utter dread when you accidentally swallow down that piece of chewing gum that you've been chomping at for way too long.
Then comes the sinking realisation that the piece of gum will more than likely set up camp in our stomachs for the next seven years.
But did you realise that this actually isn't true?
Well, according to a professor of clinical gastroenterology it isn't anyway, and I'll certainly take their word for it!
The professor in question, Simon Travis, who works for the University of Oxford, decided to debunk this myth and set things straight once and for all.
Speaking to CNN, he explained how the idea of chewing gum sitting in our stomachs for seven years is simply an 'old wives’ tale'.
“I’ve no idea where the myth came from," he said. "I can only imagine that it was suggested because someone wanted to stop their children from chewing gum."
While this is certainly a relief to many of us who've definitely had crippling anxiety over swallowing gum since childhood, Travis did warn that swallowing gum regularly can be harmful.
He explained that swallowing three or more pieces of gum per day would be considered excessive.
“If you swallow chewing gum, it’ll go through the stomach, and go through into the intestine, and pass out unchanged at the other end,” Professor Travis said.
“There are cases of chewing gum lodging in the intestines of infants and even children if they’ve swallowed a lot, and then it causes an obstruction.
"But in over 30 years of specialist gastro practice, I’ve never seen a case."
Well, Professor Travis isn't the only one to debunk this myth, as Dr. Aaron Carroll, a professor of pediatrics and chief health officer at Indiana University, has written several books debunking common myths about the human body.
Dr. Carroll agreed that while swallowing gum won't do you any harm, he actively discouraged it.
“It has no nutritional value,” he said. “Gum is made out of gum-based sweeteners, flavoring and scents.
"Gum base is a mixture of elastomers, resins, fats, emulsifiers and waxes. So I wouldn’t say it’s healthy.”
Thankfully, most of us can forget about being scared when we accidentally swallow gum, but there are certain groups who should be more cautious.
Those who've previously experienced issues with their gastrointestinal tract, such as Crohn's disease, should avoid gum as it might take longer to break down in their system.
At least there's plenty of other sweet treats we can indulge in.