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With all the news coming out of the first press conferences of the new administration, it’s no surprise that a seemingly insane fact about White House press secretary Sean Spicer has emerged – the man really enjoys Orbit cinnamon chewing gum, which he reportedly “chews and swallows whole,” according to a Washington Post profile of Spicer from last summer.
Chews and swallows whole?
“Two and a half packs by noon,” Spicer told the Post then. He says his doctor told him there was no problem with that.
Gum is designed so that it’s mostly not digestible, otherwise you’d break it down in your mouth.
And as kids, many of us heard the claim that it would sit in your gut for seven years. (Was it then supposed to mysteriously become digestible?) Obviously, that’s a myth – otherwise, we’re pretty sure Spicer would be physically comprised more of chewing gum than anything else.
But is it dangerous to swallow that much gum?
Turns out that in general, swallowing gum is mostly harmless.
As a video from the American Chemical Society’s Reactions series explains, your body breaks down the sugars, oils, and alcohols that are part of the gum. The indigestible rubber base generally just passes through your stomach and other intestines and exits your body as waste, just like other indigestible materials.
“On rare occasions, large amounts of swallowed gum combined with constipation have blocked intestines in children,” Dr. Michael Picco of the Mayo Clinic writes. Still, he says swallowing gum generally isn’t harmful.
Spicer is not a kid but his consumption certainly qualifies as “large amounts” – and who knows how much gum the man needs after lunch. So while his habit is probably generally fine, if not healthy, for his intestines sake he should probably find a napkin to spit that gum out if he’s feeling clogged up otherwise.
From a health perspective, swallowing gum like that is probably not exactly good for you (and might be bad under certain circumstances), though it’s probably generally okay. We wouldn’t advise it to most people, but when it comes to Spicer, we’d say it sounds like a strange habit that’s not worth worrying too much about.