Accidentally swallowing a chewing gum! There is hardly anyone who has not been guilty of doing that. But the scariest part has to be the tale told by our parents that it stays in our stomach for seven years. An American video series called ‘Reactions’ from the American Chemical society conducted a study to analyze the functions of the digestive system. They found that although there are certain gums that can escape digestion for some time, there is no way a gum remains in your stomach for that long.
The digestive system includes three steps. First, the food is processed through chewing, then the protein and enzymes in the saliva break down the remnants, and lastly the acids dissolve what’s left of the gum to make it compatible with the intestines.
After chewing, the muscles in your mouth push the food into the digestive tract; from there it is transferred to the stomach to churn with the digestive juices. During this process, the enzymes in the saliva, the digestive juices, and acids, work to transform the food into nutrients that your body utilizes.
The rest of the bits are dissolved and ultimately disposed of.
But gums cannot be digested like normal food because they are made of Butyl rubber, which is a kind of synthetic rubber that gives it a particular kind of consistency and chewiness.
A gum cannot be disintegrated by teeth either so it travels through the digestive tract as a whole wad. Though the enzymes in the stomach can easily break down the oils, carbohydrate and alcohol but the rubbery base are immune to the digestive juices. Therefore, a bit of your gum stays in your stomach and so do other kinds of resilient foods like corns or sunflower seeds but they are eventually led out of the body by the muscles within some days.