We all have nasty breath sometimes, especially when we get out of bed in the morning. But chronic bad breath, or halitosis, is embarrassing AND has damaging consequences. It makes you hard to be around and can ruin relationships, damage your professional image and turn you into a social pariah.
“You have bad breath”
No one likes to hear those words – or say them. But not knowing is worse. Perhaps you don’t realize your breath is a turnoff because people are afraid to tell you. The best way to find out if you have “dragon breath” is to ask a close friend or your significant other. Because it’s really hard to tell on your own.
What causes it?
Bad breath can also be caused by the foods you eat, dry mouth, smoking or a medical disorder such as diabetes, acid reflux, lactose intolerance and more. Happily, there’s always a solution. You just have to know what’s causing it.
Poor oral hygiene
A buildup of bacteria in your mouth can cause inflammation and gum disease that give off noxious odours or gases that smell like sulfur – or worse. Good oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist are obviously the first step to help reduce or eliminate bad breath.
The foods you eat
What you eat affects the air you exhale. That’s because as food is digested, it’s absorbed into your bloodstream and then expelled by your lungs when you breathe. Here are some tips:
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet and regular meals. Don’t go too long without eating. High protein and low-carb diets can make your breath smell bad. For two reasons; 1. High-protein meals cause your body to produce more ammonia, which has a foul smell. 2. When you cut carbs you start to use more fat for energy, creating molecules called “ketones”. One of these, acetone, is secreted in the breath, giving it an unpleasant odour sometimes known as “keto-breath”.
- Snack on raw foods such as carrots, celery or apple slices. Raw vegetables and fruits have a high percentage of water and plenty of fibre that help flush and clear food debris that could otherwise start to rot and give off odour.
- As a nutritionist, I often recommend the use of garlic, onions, and other spicy foods because of their health benefits. But don’t overdo it or you run the risk not only of chronic bad breath, but body odour too.
In my clinical experience, most chronic cases of bad breath are caused by an imbalance in gut bacteria, specially an overgrowth of the unfriendly ones. There are a couple of ways to correct this:
- Follow the 80/20 principle – eat until you are only 80% full and eat 80% non-starchy veggies (and sea vegetables like nori, wakame) and eat only 20% animal protein, grain-like seeds and starchy vegetables. This ensures that enough digestive enzymes are available to support the movement of food through your digestive tract. It leaves your body more alkaline, which naturally inhibits bacterial overgrowth and gut infections.
- Take probiotics – These beneficial bacteria work synergistically with the body and are used not only for digestive health, but also to prevent heartburn and even directly in the mouth to treat bad breath. Probiotics are able to reduce bad breath by forcing out harmful (and halitosis-producing) bacteria with strains that will not produce oral odours and actually make your breath a little sweeter!
Home remedies for bad breath
If you suffer from bad breath you want to know how to get rid of it – and so does everyone around you! Here are some of the things that can help:
- Brush your teeth after every meal (and snack). Keep dental floss with you and use it all the time!
- Stop smoking. It can give you horrible breath.
- Hydrate your mouth moist by drinking water.
- Don’t drink too much coffee. Its strong taste tends to stick to the tongue and foul your breath. Try herbal teas and green tea instead.
- Chewing sugarless gum to stimulate the production of saliva. Don’t eat sugary breath mints which feed bacterial overgrowth.
- Avoid foods such as onions or garlic, which may cause bad breath.
- Natural bad breath remedies include chewing on mint or parsley.
- Cut back on alcohol. Not only does it lead to a dry mouth, it can make your breath reek for up to eight to 10 hours after you finish drinking.
Finally, see a properly trained nutritionist like me, who can help get to the root causes of chronic bad breath, identify any underlying conditions, address them and help you get rid of bad breath for good!