Chewing Gum and Gas
Blowing bubbles you don’t want!
Many people ask whether chewing gum causes gas.
Some people wonder if chewing gum can lead to other IBS symptoms like diarrhea.
Here’s where you can find out.
Chewing gum and gas, is there a connection?
Everyone that chews gum swallows little bits of air.
As the air builds up in the stomach, the person chewing the gum usually belches/burps it up. BUT, not all of it comes up… And it’s gotta go somewhere ;).
So the small amounts of air move through the bowels and build up. Eventually it comes out the tailpipe (so to speak).
But there are some important things than can happen on the way.
Can chewing gum and gas cause other IBS symptoms?
Here’s what I’ve pieced together so far.
People with IBS don’t move gas properly through their bowels leading to trapped gas. Trapped gas can lead to spasms in the colon. Spasms in the colon either trap stool, which can cause constipation, or rush things along, causing diarrhea.
Trapped gas can also give you agonizing abdominal pain and cramps (some of the worst pain of my life).
Now some people believe that the sugar in the gum is the problem and not swallowing air. I think the amount of sugar in gum is probably easy for most people to digest and absorb before it reaches the colon.
That’s not true of the sweetener used in sugarless gum though.
Does chewing sugarless gum cause gas?
Yes. Since the problem is swallowed air, chewing sugarless gum causes gas just like chewing regular gum.
But sugarless gum has an extra trick up it’s sleeve. Sugarless gum uses an artificial sweetener, usually sorbitol, and THAT can cause gas too! The undigested sorbitol travels down into the bowel where it’s broken down by bacteria.
The bacteria eat the sorbitol (Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol) and pass their own gas.
This can leave you feeling bloated and full, or make you gassy.
Sorbitol can also give you diarrhea.
Does the Sorbitol in sugarless gum cause diarrhea?
Sorbitol is actually used as a laxative. That’s right, Sorbitol is used by doctors to loosen up stool. If you already have loose stool (diarrhea) and cramping, I’m thinking Sorbitol, sugarless chewing gum and gas are the last thing you need!
What other ways can chewing gum cause gas?
When most people think about some delicious food, it makes their mouth “water.” That water is saliva, and it’s a sign that your digestive tract is gearing up to eat food.
If you chew gum, I believe it gets your digestive system moving including your intestinal tract, aka bowels. That can lead to problems for those of us with IBS, due to trapped gas, bloating and abdominal spasms.
So why chew gum at all?
I admit I sometimes chew gum to help settle my stomach after a big meal. It’s something my mother told me about, and it seems to help my reflux. But I usually only chew the sugared kind (no Sorbitol for me), and I don’t overdo it.
Chewing gum and gas… One leads to the other. Of course what you do is up to you :).