Gum is one of those products that makes me go, "Hmmm." Who thought of it? And how did it go from inception to high-tech hospitals? I checked out what the online Britannica encyclopedia has to say about gum. Its article notes that gum has been around since antiquity in the form of tree resin. People in the Mediterranean, Central America and North America chewed it. An article in Smithsonianmag.com notes that industrialists thought the substance might be good for rubber manufacturing. It ended up sticking as a candy product, which is how William Wrigley, Jr. made his fortune.

And now researchers are looking into how gum might help issues with your gut. One study announced at the 18th Annual Perioperative and Critical Care Conference from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons shows that chewing sugarless gum after heart valve surgery may kick start the digestive tract and allow patients to go home faster and be more comfortable. Apparently, the gum tricks the digestive track into thinking that food is on the way.

A quick online search pops up a lot of other studies, including an older one in the Journal of Clinical Nursing that shows chewing gum helps stomach discomfort and nausea for colonoscopy patients.

Chewing gum seems to be a low-tech and cheap way to potentially help gut issues after procedures. If you're wondering about what chewing gum does or doesn't do for your teeth, I might bite into that topic in a different post.

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For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at vwilliams@newsmd.com. Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.