Fad Diets & The Mouth

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS Nutritional Periodontist
March 19, 2018

 

 

 

Fad DietsAn email about fad diets and bad breath was forwarded to me. This email claimed that some fad diets like fasting and low-carb could lead to dehydration and bad breath in the mouth. This might make sense to some extent about fad diets, but there was an underlying intent.

 

The ultimate purpose of the email was to promote a dentist-developed, bad-breath lozenge. I’ve already discussed how I feel about healthcare practitioners promoting products, so I won’t go into that here. The issues this email raised for me, however, were the definition of a “fad diet” and the side effects in the mouth. So, let me talk about fad diets as well as the effects of dehydration and bad breath in the mouth.

 

Fad Diets

Let me be clear: I do not believe in fad diets. I wrote an article that described some fad diets over the past decades. But, what is a “fad diet”?

 

If a nutrient-dense diet that has sustained our primal ancestors for at least 160,000 years is considered a “fad diet,” then I disagree with labeling it a fad diet. If the diets of various primal societies existing in isolated areas in the world today are considered “fad diets”, then I disagree they are fad diets.

 

“Fad Diets” are quick fixes to lose weight by removing critical nutrients, which the body requires.

 

Fasting is Not a Fad

Fasting has been studied and researched for many years. Peer-reviewed medical articles have been published in various medical journals. The overwhelming evidence is that fasting can produce significant health benefits like regulation of insulin and other hormones, repair of mitochondria, and increase in longevity. Of course, drinking water is necessary when fasting. Water does not break a fast.

 

Low-Carb is Not a Fad

A low to very low-carbohydrate diet and even a “keto diet” have been studied. Our body can make the extra glucose it requires from other nutrients we have ingested. We don’t need excess carbohydrates from our diet. Becoming a “fat burner” and not a “sugar burner” is healthy. However, this may cause a change in odors on the breath. I remind my patients that these odors frequently will go away as these eating styles become stabilized in the body.

 

One popular diet question I get from my patients is about lean meats. I don’t eat lean meats. I eat meats from pastured or wild caught animals that live humanely in their natural environments and only feed on their natural food sources. I include their healthy fats and their amazingly nutritious organs.

 

Another popular question I get is about whole grains. Whole grains are problematic, as they have:

  • Phytates that bind to necessary nutrients
  • Proteins that are not completely digested and damage the gut microbiome and the intestinal lining
  • Excess carbohydrates that are unnecessary for healthy metabolism.

 

However, low-carb is not for everyone. For example, those who are children, are pregnant, have hypothyroidism, or have “adrenal fatigue” should not go “low carb”. I try to talk with my patients about this, not always with success. In general, it is probably fair to say that most people will benefit from eating significantly fewer carbohydrates than are eaten by the majority of individuals in the modern world.

 

Dehydration

We often hear about how much water we should drink each day. Humans do not need to drink a specific volume of water daily. Your body will tell you when you need water. When you are thirsty, you should drink water – all the water you want. If you are thirsty but you don’t drink sufficient water, then you could get dehydrated. Listen to your body!

 

Bad Breath

Everyone occasionally will experience bad breath, which is usually caused by the digestion of some odoriferous foods. However, chronic bad breath can be caused by many things –excessive protein consumption, bacterial overgrowth in the mouth and other parts of the digestive system, systemic infections, gum disease & tooth decay, sinus problems, and tonsil stones. Dehydration could cause bad breath by decreasing the flow of saliva.

 

I explain to my patients that adequate saliva is necessary to begin the digestion of certain foods, lubricate the mouth, and wash away food particles and bacteria. So, a decrease in saliva could cause bad breath by allowing the level of unhealthy bacteria to increase. Adequate saliva also provides necessary nutrients to the healthy microbiome in the mouth as well as the healthy biofilm around the tooth margin called dental plaque. (By the way, dental plaque is healthy until it’s not.)

 

My Final Comments

Fad diets are unhealthy. They might cause dehydration and bad breath, among other complications. But, a healthy diet of nutrient-dense foods is not a fad diet and will not cause dehydration or bad breath. Let’s be sure to define fad diets correctly. “Fad diets” are quick fixes to lose weight by removing critical nutrients that the body requires.

 

 

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“10 Years
– And I Still Have Bad Breath” –

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS Nutritional Periodontist
September 26, 2016

many causes of bad-breathEmily scheduled a telephone consultation with me the other day. Her problem has distressed her for years, and she was clearly frustrated.

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She explained to me that she had been trying to prevent bad breath for over 10 years! She described how her coworkers would shy away from her. Only her closest friends would tell her that she had bad breath. She went to her medical doctor years ago to try to figure out what was going on – only to be rebuked. Her MD poo-pooed the whole idea and said her bad breath was not caused by a medical problem.

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Then Emily went to her dentist who examined her mouth and suggested more frequent cleaning appointments with the dental hygienist. That made sense to Emily, but after repeated cleanings, there was no difference. Confused, Emily began to research other solutions for her problem.

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During her unsuccessful efforts to find the answers, she did begin to eat a more nutritionally balanced diet. Emily felt better and had more energy, but she still had bad breath. She finally discovered me online and sought my opinions.

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First, I explained the obvious causes of bad breath, which she already knew and investigated. Then I explained some underlying medical issues, which could be the cause and which needed to be ruled out by a medical doctor. Her previous medical doctor never suggested these steps. I gave Emily some names of medical doctors who also practiced functional medicine in her local area and who could perform a thorough medical exam incorporating functional testing. Finally, I made some recommendations for her to try right away. Here is a summary of my discussion with Emily:

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Obvious Causes

First of all, look for the most obvious causes. In Emily’s case, she already did that. But, as a review, here they are.

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Most bad breath comes from gum infections, decaying food particles in the mouth, or from foods you have eaten that produce strong odors as they are digested. To take care of gum infection or decaying food particles, you must clean your mouth correctly and efficiently. HERE.

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There is very little you can do if you eat foods that create odors. As these foods are being digested, they produce gases, which can pass through the lungs and are exhaled as bad breath. You might be able to reduce these odors if the foods are cooked rather than eaten raw. Also, eating green leafy vegetables either during or after the offending foods may help neutralize some odoriferous foods like onions and garlic.

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Since Emily had addressed these causes with no change in her bad breath, I then delved into the causes that may not be so obvious.

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Not-So-Obvious Causes

  • Specific prescription medications and various nutritional supplements can create unique and unpleasant odors. To remove these odors, you would need to stop taking those medications or supplements.
  • Dry mouth or reduced saliva flow could cause bad breath. HERE. Dry mouth may be a result of taking certain medications or may be a result of a disease in, or damage to, the salivary glands. HERE. Bad breath also could be a result of psychological stress, which often could reduce salivary flow. HERE. A simple solution would be to have bottled water available to drink as frequently as necessary.
  • The tonsils that are located on the sides of the throat just past the tongue can lodge calcified bacteria, which are known as tonsil stones. They may look like small, white nodules that can harbor significant odor. If you gargled with warm salt water, you might be able to dislodge them. If not, a dentist or an “ear, nose, and throat specialist” could do that for you.
  • If bad breath is still a problem, definitely make a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet part of your lifestyle. HERE. Nutrient-dense foods and anti-inflammatory foods will help keep bad bacteria in check and will support a healthy immune system – all of which support pleasant breath.

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Many of the causes I have described up to this point are under your control. The following are trickier and will require a healthcare professional.

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Specific diseases need to be ruled out by a physician who may need to perform some medical tests. Infections and lesions in the sinuses, stomach, lungs, intestinal tract, pancreas, liver, and kidneys are potential problem areas. Also, if foods are not digested properly and completely, their remaining particles could become putrid and create strong odors.

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Functional medicine testing could shed some light on the source of bad breath. HERE. Your doctor may want to order a stool test. Also, testing for SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) through breath analysis may be helpful. These tests could pinpoint overgrowth of bacteria, yeast, or parasites in the digestive tract. If unhealthy levels of these microbes are discovered, your doctor may suggest botanical or prescription medicines to eliminate them. If inadequate digestion were diagnosed, various supplements like digestive enzymes and Betaine HCl might be recommended. In addition, fiber (from vegetables and fruits) and good bacteria (from fermented foods) would be beneficial.

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Final Thoughts

Bad breath affects everyone at times. But, it is pathologic for bad breath to last for a long time. There is always a cause. Getting to the cause may be tricky. I have summarized my suggestions to understand and resolve this problem once and for all.

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What’s Up With Stinky Breath?
5 Things To Do

evolution rBad breath stinks, and nobody wants stinky breath. But, everybody has had stinky breath or halitosis at times. You may not know that you have stinky breath, but people that come close to you will know. So, what causes it, and what can you do about it? I am going to tell you.
 
Documentation of bad breath dates back to 1550 BC when the ancient Egyptians inscribed in the Ebers Papyrus (an ancient Egyptian medical document) how to use tablets made from cinnamon, myrrh, and honey to fight bad breath. Unfortunately today, most people still try to mask the odor but never address the actual causes.
 
Certain bacteria, certain foods, lack of saliva or dry mouth, infections either in the mouth or elsewhere in the body, or stress may cause bad breath. But, the fact is, if you could correct the causes, then your stinky breath would no longer be an annoying problem.
 
The first major source of halitosis is the mouth, where 90% of all bad breath originates. 80%-90% of this odor from the mouth originates on the back of the upper side of the tongue. This is where many bacteria reside, and where they break down dead cells and food particles to form stinky breath.
 
The next likely place in the mouth for bad breath is located in the crevices where the gum surrounds the necks of teeth and in spaces between the teeth. Bacteria that cause bad breath can accumulate in these hidden places, but more importantly they can cause gum disease, which can contribute to even worse stinky breath.
 
Other less common sources creating bad breath in the mouth may originate from dental decay; poorly fitting dental work; abscesses and other mouth infections; tobacco; alcohol; dry mouth frequently as a result of some medications; and volatile foodstuffs like onion, garlic, cabbage, and cauliflower.
 
The second major source of bad breath is from the nose. This is usually caused by sinus infections and post-nasal drip.
 
Another source of halitosis can be the odors produced from the metabolism of volatile foodstuffs, which are eventually expelled through the lungs as well as the skin.
 
Less frequent sources of bad breath are infected tonsils, liver and kidney diseases, carcinoma, lung infections, metabolic disorders, and diabetes.
 
A likely source that is actively being investigated through peer-reviewed research is the gut bacteria. Healthy bacteria in the gut can be damaged by specific foods, medications, and stress, all of which in turn can affect the bacteria throughout the body. These unhealthy changes in the gut can affect the healthy bacteria in the saliva, which then can change the bacteria in the mouth. Here and Here
 
So, what can you do? Here are 5 solutions:

  • Brush your tongue. An effective way is to use a teaspoon. Place the inverted teaspoon as far back as is comfortable on the upper side of your tongue. Then, gently glide the teaspoon forward, removing the bacterial film and microscopic food particles. Repeat this 2-3 times, and then wash off the teaspoon. Perform this tongue-cleaning method in the morning and then in the evening before bed. If you want to spend your money, here are some tongue-cleaning gadgets on Amazon. Also, here is a link from my friend William Revak of OraWellness.com to his video from his website that demonstrates tongue brushing.
  • Brush and floss your teeth correctly. This will remove the film of bacteria called dental plaque from around the gum line. Here is my blog on how to do this.
  • Have regular dental checkups to make sure your oral health is up to par, and have professional cleanings at your dentist’s office to remove any tartar from under the gum tissues.
  • Eat a Paleo-type diet to improve the health of both the microbes in your gut and also the lining of your gut. The fiber in veggies that dominate a Paleo-type diet will feed the good bacteria of the colon.
  • Eat live-culture fermented foods every day like kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurt, and kefir to improve the composition of the good bacteria in your gut.

 
What you don’t want to do is to try to kill off bacteria indiscriminately. Invariably, you may destroy some of the offending bacteria, but you will destroy many healthy microbes thus creating a more serious health problem. Mouthwashes are not the remedy. On the other hand, if you attacked the real causes of stinky breath and not just tried to mask bad odors, you could resolve these issues, and your breath would smell significantly better. You will be happy; your closest friends will be happier; and your partner will be ecstatic!

 

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