For a long time, health experts have been trying to find the ways to cut down on long hospital stays after major colon surgeries and speed up patients’ recovery. It has been estimated that around $750 million a year was being spent on prolonged hospital stays after such procedures.

It was found previously that early feeding and non-narcotic pain relievers as well as minimally invasive surgery all helped to shorten time in the hospital. However, a new technique has been revealed: chewing gum.

There are still only theories on how chewing gum can actually speed up recovery. Researchers believe that chewing stimulates the same nerves as eating, which, in turn, release hormones that activate the gastrointestinal tract.

During a small trial, it was shown that chewing gum stepped up the normal bowel functions and cut short hospitals stays by approximately 2 days. The study results showed that chewing gum patients had an average hospital stay of 4.3 days, compared with 6.8 days for the control group; passed gas sooner (65.4 hours compared with 80.2 hours after surgery); had their first bowel movement sooner (63.2 hours versus 89.4 hours) and felt hungry faster (63.5 hours versus 72.8 hours). They were given sugarless chewing gums three times a day for one, starting the morning after their surgery until their first bowel movement.