Q. I have a nervous stomach. This results in frequent, unpredictable bouts of diarrhea. I have also been chewing sugarless gum daily for years.
I just heard that sugarless gum can combat constipation. Does that mean it could also cause diarrhea? Could my chewing gum be contributing to my digestive problems?
A. Sugarless gum and candy are sweetened with mannitol, sorbitol, malitol, maltitol or xylitol. These are natural compounds that taste sweet but are not completely absorbed from the digestive tract. The unabsorbed remnants can pull fluid into the colon, leading to cramps and diarrhea. Why not stop chewing gum for a week or two so you can see if that makes a difference? If it does, you may want to find a substitute for sugarless gum.