Chew your way to a speedy recovery

August 19, 2008 6:01:08 AM PDT
British researchers say chewing gum and recovering from surgery at the same time isn't only possible, it's a great idea.

A new analysis of several studies suggests chewing gum may speed the return of normal bowel function following colon surgery. Some patients have trouble with bowel movements after colon surgery, but chewing gum may fool the body into good digestion.

Gum gets the juices flowing, literally. Researchers say in addition to saliva, the chewing may stimulate gut hormones and pancreatic secretions.

More than 320,000 colorectal surgeries are performed in the United States annually at a cost of $2,100 per day in the hospital. So a few pennies worth of chewing gum could save millions of dollars in hospital costs.