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View count:88
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Duration:04:29
Uploaded:2018-08-23
Last sync:2018-08-23 17:10
Jessi swallowed her gum and was worried that it would stay in her stomach for 7 years! Could this really happen? What makes gum so different from other food?

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SOURCES:

https://recipes.howstuffworks.com/question86.htm
https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-Does-the-Small-Intestine-Do.aspx
https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/digestive-system-how-it-works
https://www.mayoclinic.org/digestive-system/expert-answers/faq-20058446
[ INTRO ].

I was just telling Squeaks about a mistake I made today. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, and that’s OK.

But I always try to learn from my mistakes so I can do better next time, and today I learned something that surprised me! Let me explain what happened. I was chewing some gum right before lunch.

I was eating with one of my friends, and when we sat down at the table, I got distracted talking to her and swallowed my gum just like a piece of regular food! [Squeaks is worried]. I know — I was worried too at first, because you’re never supposed to swallow gum. I’ve heard lots of people say that the reason you’re not supposed to swallow it is because gum will stay in your stomach for seven years.

But after I swallowed my gum, I learned more about what happens to it inside our bodies, and it turns out that’s not true! You still should never swallow gum on purpose, or chew it at all unless a grown-up says it’s. OK.

But it doesn’t stay in your stomach for seven years. It comes right out of your body after a few days at most, just like anything else. So even though I swallowed my gum by accident, I’ll be fine.

The main reason you might think gum stays in your stomach if you swallow it is that gum isn’t regular food. It’s made of rubber — the same type of stuff that rubber bands are made of — mixed with a little sugar or sweetener. The rubber is what makes gum chewy, which is why we can keep it in our mouths for a long time.

But rubber bands aren’t food, and neither is gum! It’s made so we can chew on it, but we’re not supposed to swallow it. Your body can’t digest the rubber in gum — in other words, it can’t break the gum down into smaller pieces for energy.

So even if someone swallows it, the gum stays as one big blob. That’s why some people might think it stays in your stomach for a really long time. But that’s not true.

Even though the gum stays in a blob, it moves through your body until it comes out as poop, just like everything else you eat. Here’s what really happens when someone chews gum and then swallows it. The gum is usually kind of hard when you unwrap it, but once it goes in your mouth and you start chewing it, it becomes softer.

If there’s sugar in the gum, your saliva will start to suck it out, which is why gum usually tastes sweet for the first few minutes you chew it. Your body actually can use the sugar for energy. But not the rest of the gum, because it’s just rubber.

Normally, when we’re done chewing gum we’re supposed to put it in the garbage. But let’s say someone swallows it by accident, like I did. As they swallow the gum, it moves down their throat and into their stomach.

There, it mixes with all the other stuff in their stomach and gets mushed around. But while the other stuff starts to be broken down into smaller pieces their body can use for energy and nutrients, the gum just stays the same. Next, the gum moves from their stomach into the small intestine, a long, curled up tube that winds its way through your body.

The small intestine does even more digesting, and sucks out a lot of the water from your food. But again, the gum just moves along without changing much. This is where swallowing gum actually /can/ be dangerous.

It doesn’t happen a lot, but since a kid’s small intestines are … well … smaller, a few people have had the gum they swallowed get stuck in the tubes. Then they have to go to the doctor to get things moving again. I’m a grown up, though, so I’m not worried about that.

After it gets through the small intestine, the next stop is the large intestine. It’s also a tube, but it’s shorter and much wider than the small intestine. By now, the food is almost done being digested, but I bet you can guess what happens to the gum. [Squeaks guesses].

That’s right — nothing! The large intestine takes in some more water, and whatever’s left of the food, and the gum, becomes poop! And I think you probably know where it goes after that.

In all, it shouldn’t take more than a few days for gum to make it all the way through someone’s body. Definitely not seven years! So, now I know what really happens when someone swallows gum.

But I’ve learned my lesson: no more chewing gum right before lunch! Thanks to one of our viewers, Diana, for asking us about this! If you want to keep learning and having fun with Squeaks and me, hit the subscribe button, and don’t forget to check us out on the YouTube Kids app.

We’ll see you next time, here at the Fort! [ OUTRO ].