It seems like our ancestors have been chewing gum of one sort or another for some 7000 years. Ancient peoples chewed tree bark, pine tar, or other organic matter. It was not until the late 1800’s that commercial gum emerged.
You might be surprised that it was a famous general, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna who gets the honor as the father of commercial chicle gum. General Santa Anna introduced chicle or latex sap from the Sapodilla Tree to a gum maker named Thomas Adams in the late 1860’s. He took chewing gum to a new level. The rest is history.
Since people have been chewing gum of one sort or another for thousands of years, why are we worried now? So does it hurt to swallow your gum? I can remember my mom telling me the same thing, that swallowing your gum was not good for your stomach. Is it true or just a saying handed down from our parents over the generations?
From the research I did, for the most part, it is just a story. It is even said that chewed gum stays in your tummy for 7 years. That is a long time if it were true.
Gum is made of flavorings like mint or spearmint, sweeteners, and softeners’ to make it pliable. It is the base of the gum that is said to be a problem. The base is mostly chemicals to give it the chewy factor. It is created to resist the saliva in your mouth but not your stomach. It has to go through the same process that all your other food does. It all ends up as waste in the end. There are many foods, that are difficult to digest, and gum is one of them. Saying that, chewed gum certainly does not stay in your digestive system for 7 years. They don’t have a clue where that story came from…certainly not from medical records or reliable statistics.
Are there any medical cases where swallowed gum caused problems? There have been several cases where a child who swallowed lots of gum on a daily basis ended up with intestinal problems. One little 4 year old had to have his rectum cleaned out and it was mostly chewed gum. I would say if you have diverticulitis that gum would not be a good habit to keep. If you tend to be constipated, there have been cases mostly in children where it did cause constipation issues. These cases do exist but are rare.
The worst problem with gum is the sugar: Chewing gum that has high amounts of sugar is not good for your mouth or gums. It is the sugar that is bad. So if you chew gum, make it sugarless gum. I would say that spitting your gum out after it has served its purpose is probably best. That does not mean on the ground or under your desk where someone can step on it. Be respectful of others.
The second problem with today’s gum is the chemicals: In the old days, gum was made from natural substances. Gum bases in the old days might include beeswax, paraffin, sorva or jelutong. That is no longer the case with much of the gum products on the market. Today’s gum may have rubber as a base. To be specific, the gum base may be made of polyethylene and polyvinyl acetate. Chemicals and plastic cannot be good for your digestion and adds to the toxic load we all carry.
What are examples of natural gum? Glee Gum is one manufacturer that still uses chicle but I would read the label to see what else they throw in. It may be made from both natural products and chemicals. Read labels and call the company who makes it. Research the gum on the net.
Is Chewing Gum Good For You? Most of the evidence says that sugarless gum helps you relax, exercises your gums, and gets the saliva flowing. I stopped chewing gum years ago for the opposite reasons. It makes me more nervous and makes my jaw ache. So the answer to this questions depends on each individual. Good luck and good chewing!