Health & Wellness

Does your swallowed gum stay in your stomach for 7 years? Science has the answer

Pretty much any gum chewer has had a reason — or need — to swallow their gum rather than politely returning it to its wrapper to toss it out. (The recommended means of disposal.)

But that naturally leads to the question on the minds of many, who were told as children that swallowing gum causes it to stay in your stomach for seven years.

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This may blow up your notions of what happens to gum once it's in your gullet.

MORE: Belly bloat? 10 bad habits to break, from chewing gum to eating fast

A video posted by the American Chemical Society's Reactions channel offers the answer by way of a brief lesson on digestion. And it's a little ... sticky.

As we all know, gum isn't broken down by mere chewing. So it goes in a great big lump down to our stomach, where it's pretty acidic. And while that can take care of some parts of the gum (like the carbohydrates from the sugar), it can't quite tackle the whole thing.

Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but here's the bottom line: While stomach acids don't break down the gum entirely, that's not the last you'll, um, see of it. Humans ingest many things that are only partially digestible, which means it all ultimately comes out in the toilet bowl.

Reactions / YouTube
Here's what's going on in your digestive system when it tries to tackle your chewed gum.

MORE: How chewing gum can save you money — and 5 more tricks to put away cash

Maybe it's now time to tackle the related question, posed in a hit 1961 song by Lonnie Donegan (and re-asked by the Muppets years later): "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor (On the Bedpost Overnight)?"

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