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Here's What Happens If You Chew Too Much Gum

Hint: wads of gum in your colon. (!!!)

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Look, gum is delicious, fun, and a gift to the world.

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But chewing all that gum can't be good for you... can it? And what bad things can actually happen if you chew too much of it?

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Well, for starters, it'll make you super gassy.

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We spoke with Dr. Robynne Chutkan, a gastroenterologist and author of the book The Microbiome Solution, who said, "It causes bloating from the artificial sweeteners — they're not absorbed in the small intestines, so they get fermented in the colon. And when you chew gum you swallow a lot of air, which causes gas and bloating."

Chutkan has also seen patients go up a whole dress size from the bloating of gum alone.

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Luckily, that bloating goes away within a day or two.

Not just severe gas, though, because it can also cause diarrhea.

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According to Chutkan, it's the artificial sweeteners in gum that can cause diarrhea, and more specifically the sorbitol and mannitol in gum. So... there's that!

And because gum doesn't belong to any food group, your body isn't able to actually digest it.

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"It doesn’t belong in any real food group. So foods where you can’t quite classify them — buyer beware," Chutkan explained. "When I’m doing a colonoscopy, it’s not uncommon to see a wad of gum in the colon. So it’s not digested." (That is, of course, if you swallow it.)

Not to mention that gum can be a leading cause of cavities.

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According to Dr. Ruchi K. Sahota, a dentist and spokesperson for the American Dental Association (ADA), "Gums that aren’t sugar free contribute to cavities." That's because when you chew gum, the bacteria sitting in your mouth breaks down the sugar in the gum and creates acid. Once that acid has been sitting on your tooth for a while, it creates a hole or cavity on your tooth.

Well, they DO exist, and they can actually help prevent cavities.

"You want to pick gums with an ADA seal of acceptance," Sahota said. The ADA seal guarantees that the product's claims have been tested and proven to be safe for consumers. So chewing sugar-free, ADA-approved gum can stimulate saliva production, which can help to keep a good pH balance in the mouth, wash away food, and neutralize cavities that could have formed. Ideally you'd chew for 20 minutes after a meal. "In moderation, it's OK!" Sahota said.

Some actual dentist and ADA-approved gum includes...

Dentyne Ice Sugarless gum, 5 Sugarfree gum, Extra Sugarfree gum, Ice Breakers Ice Cubes Sugarfree, Orbit for Kids Sugarfree, Orbit Sugarfree, Stride Sugarless Gum, and Trident Sugarfree — you can find a full list here.

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