Why Low Carb Diets Cause Bad Breath

Within today’s diet-conscious America, the low carb high protein variety stands tall. But who expected that folks on Atkins, South Beach or Dukan would experience issues such as too much left-over skin, difficulties in the bathroom, or the ultimate social faux-pas: bad breath. If your friends don’t tell you to back off, hopefully your most loved one will. When you talk to a person and you catch them flinching, you’re probably suffering from bad breath. And don’t even think about dating while you’re dieting!

What’s at the heart of this “mal” air, a.k.a. “halitosis”? While doctors aren’t unanimous on all of the contributing factors, they agree that the much higher protein intake, which most low carb diets are built around, is the primary cause.

Apparently, when all the “good” bacteria on our tongue and at the back of our throat begins the digestion process of breaking down food proteins, phlegm, blood, and even sloughed-off oral tissue, the chemical process gives off “bad-tasting” volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs). These are released from the back of the mouth as Hydrogen Sulphide, Methyl Mercaptan, and other noxious fumes.

While these “good” mouth bacteria play a role in our body’s overall health, there is no way we can remove them permanently. Nor should we want to. No amount of tongue brushing or scraping will remove VSCs. The only way is to change the bacteria’s output of VSCs into non-odorous and non-tasting organic salts.

Indeed, the problem is often worsened through “dry mouth”. This happens while you sleep and so you wake up with “morning breath”. One or more of these factors are contributors:

1. Prescription Medications (high blood pressure or depression drugs)

2. Antihistamines

3. Alcohol

4. Mouthwashes which contain alcohol

A dry mouth contains less saliva. Saliva carries oxygen, which keeps mouths healthy and fresh. These bacteria are “anaerobic”, meaning they make more sulfur when there is less oxygen. Less Saliva means less oxygen, which encourages the anaerobic environment ideal for bacteria to produce odorous and sour/bitter compounds. All protein-rich diets increase VSCs and ones bad-breath dramatically.

The way to fight back is to increase oxygen to the bacteria causing the problem and remove as much of the VSCs as possible. This can be done in a number of ways:

Drink a lot of water. This will help ensure your mouth and throat is kept moist and covered with oxygen to alleviate the VSC producing bacteria.

Clean your tongue with a special tongue cleaner before brushing your teeth just before you go to bed as well as first thing when you wake up. Also do this after every meal.

Use an alcohol-free, oxygenating mouthwash (alcohol dries your mouth and makes the problem worse). Google search “oxygenating mouthwash”… they’re available at WalMart.

Chew sugar free gum. Chewing regular gum, which contains sugar, to mask bad breath only makes it worse.

Face it – low carb diets increase bad breath. If you want to rid yourself of weight not friends (or loved-ones), drink a lot more water. You might also try breathing through your mouth when no-one’s looking!