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    Mayo Clinic Minute: How gum might benefit your gut

Run your fingers under any picnic table at a park or movie theater seat, and you might find a wad of gum. People have chewed some form of gum for thousands of years. And chewing gum has been popular since being marketed in the mid-1800s.

Yes, many find gum fun to chew, but in certain instances, gum may actually be good for your gut. That's according to Dr. Mark V. Larson, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video (1:00) is in the downloads at the end of the post.
Please ‘Courtesy: Mayo Clinic News Network.’ Read the script.

“Gum is meant to be chewed,” says Dr. Larson.

Millions of people chew gum. Some say it helps to ease hunger, relieve stress or pass the time on a long drive. And …

“… it even has some positive medical effects, such as relieving bad breath,” says Dr. Larson.

Dr. Larson says chewing gum also may be a great tool for …

“… helping people recover more quickly after surgery.”

After certain operations, some people might get constipated.

“By chewing gum, you are stimulating certain reflexes that help drive activity within the intestinal system, for example, the colon and small bowel. So after colorectal surgery, people recover faster if they chew gum early in the recovery process. We encourage that for all patients who have had colon surgery.”

It turns out gum not only freshens breath, but also it may help keep your body’s plumbing system working.

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