Is it safe to swallow your chewing gum? Here's what you — and Sean Spicer — need to know.

Is it safe to swallow your chewing gum? Here's what you — and Sean Spicer — need to know.
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

When it comes to healthy eating, there are countless alternative facts. One day you're supposed to skip the fats; the next day, everyone is raving about the healthy ones. Some believe detoxing is a tried-and-true method for improving your body, while the science of detoxing suggests otherwise. 

Yes, the science behind food is complicated and often contradictory, but there are a few unwritten rules about things we, as humans, know never to ingest. Gum, for example, is one of them. 

But if there's anything to learn from the first few days of Trump's presidency, it's that rules are bound to be broken. So it shouldn't have been all that surprising to learn that Sean Spencer, the new White House press secretary, has a gum-chewing habit that would make you want to spit out your own. 

As an August 2016 profile in the Washington Post revealed, Spicer chews and swallows 36 pieces of gum before noon. "Even when he is not speaking, [his mouth] works on overdrive, churning through pieces of Orbit cinnamon gum, which he chews and swallows whole," the Post wrote.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer during his first official press conference
Source: 
Ron Sachs/AP

"I talked to my doctor about it," Spicer told the Post. "He said it's no problem."

Since we weren't sure about Spicer's boss' doctor, we wanted to double-check his own medical professional's claim that swallowing all that gum is actually OK. 

Aside from breaking social norms, it seems Spicer is in the clear here.

"It's safe to swallow gum," Rudy Bedford, gastroenterologist at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, said in an interview. "As with anything, as long as it's not a large amount, it's fine and there are no ramifications whatsoever."

Though gum is not really a digestible material, Bedford explained that the stomach's acids work on the gum to some degree, and though they can't break it down completely, the gum will pass through your gastrointestinal tract like any other food you ingest. Gum will not, as legend has it, stick to the walls of your gut or insides.

Eat it
Source: 
Giphy

The biggest caveat to this is when someone, usually a child, ingests large quantities in a short time, which Bedford specified as chewing about four-to-five packs of Juicy Fruit at once. Swallowing a lump of gum larger than a golf ball may result in some stomach troubles. 

But because Spicer chews one piece of gum at a time (we think?), Bedford agrees with his doctor that, yes, it is fine to swallow multiple packs of gum a day. "He's not chewing and swallowing all three packs at the same time," Bedford laughed. "Throughout the day, gum will pass through his own GI tract." 

In other words, your White House Press Secretary is pooping gum all day. 

So why do we traditionally spit out gum? Bedford attributes it to habit. "I don't think there's no reason why [people] couldn't swallow it," he said.

Welcome to America 2017, where we all swallow our gum and suffer no consequences. 

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Melissa Kravitz

Melissa Kravitz is a contributor for Mic. Her work has appeared on Thrillist, Mashable, Elite Daily, Time Out, Refinery29, Gothamist, Racked and more.

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