Not all chewing gum is created equal.
When it comes to unhealthy habits, chewing gum is generally pretty low on the list. In general, it’s a pretty harmless habit, especially if you are chewing gum instead of smoking, or binging on super-unhealthy foods.
That being said, chewing gum can also be pretty bad for your digestive system. We’ve all heard the old wives tale that if you swallow chewing gum, it stays in your stomach forever. While this isn’t true (nothing stays in your stomach forever), there are other negative effects associated with gum.
Certain kinds of gum contain carbohydrates called FODMAPs. FODMAP stands for ‘fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols’. I don’t expect you to memorize or even remember those words, but you should know that many types of chewing gum, especially sugar-free brands, contain one or more of these carbohydrates. FODMAPs don’t digest easily, or at all in some cases.
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Even if you don’t swallow your gum, FODMAPs enter your digestive system through your saliva, which can create digestive issues and discomfort, and even IBS.
If you chew a lot of gum (especially sugar-free brands), and suffer from digestive issues, check the label on your gum. If it contains FODMAPs, switch to a naturally sweetened option.