TikToker Claims Your Body Will Only Let You Swallow A Few Times At Once

For most of us, it can be pretty easy to take the many complicated processes our bodies undergo every day for granted. One we get past that period of discovery we have as small children, the ways our bodies work start to feel routine.

No matter how simple the actions we take are, there's always something a lot more complicated going on behind the scenes. And unfortunately, we're most likely to appreciate that right after something in one of those processes gets gummed up by an injury or a disease.

With that in mind, perhaps it's good that one brief video made the rounds on TikTok to help us appreciate our digestive systems more.

On March 8, TikTok user Jesse Beharrell posted a clip that was just long enough to make the claim you can see here.

After doing it a couple of times himself, he invited his audience to confirm of counter what he's saying by trying it themselves.

And since the video would end up receiving 9.6 million views, over 484,000 likes, and over 36,000 comments, it seems there were no shortage of people who were indeed curious to try this themselves.

And although the number of swallows before that was true varied from person to person, all found it harder to do the more they tried it.

Most felt a choking sensation after swallowing about four to seven times in succession, with one commenter saying, "It felt like I almost choked with the insides of my throat."

To understand why this is, we must first understand what exactly happens when we swallow.

According to Nature, the muscles in our esophagus contract in a sequence as a means of pushing what we're eating and drinking down towards our stomachs.

This process is known esophageal peristalsis or a peristaltic sequence.

When we swallow, the extent of this peristaltic sequence tends to depend on whether we're doing a "wet" or "dry" swallow.

As an article in the Journal of Physiology outlines, a wet swallow occurs when we're trying to push a bolus — which is either a liquid we're drinking or chewed food — through the esophagus.

In the case of a dry swallow, we don't have anything to swallow besides our saliva and are essentially doing it just to do it as Beharrell demonstrates in his video.

As you've likely noticed if you tried a series of dry swallows after Beharrell gave you the idea, the first one likely felt relatively normal.

As research conducted by the World Organization for Specialized Studies on Diseases of the Esophagus confirmed, that's because it is indeed possible for a peristaltic sequence to occur from dry swallowing.

However, the study in the Journal of Physiology found that when a swallow involves a millimeter of fluid or less, the muscles in the esophagus contract to a weaker extent than they otherwise would.

So the more you dry swallow at once, the more likely your esophagus is to not bother engaging in a peristaltic sequence at all.

That was what the World Organization for Specialized Studies on Diseases of the Esophagus research confirmed, as 50% of their test subjects reported experiencing at least one non-peristaltic sequence during a series of 10 dry swallows.

So if trying this out for yourself felt uncomfortable after four attempts, imagine participating in this study and having to do it six more times.

h/t: Journal of Physiology, World Organization for Specialized Studies on Diseases of the Esophagus

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