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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Meat and dairy cause bad breath.

Do vegetarians have sweeter breath than carnivores? 

Pete's halitosis still a problemImage by Fantata via Flickr
Halitosis a problem?
Foods high in protein, particularly animal protein such as fish, seafood, eggs, and dairy foods (especially milk and cheese) are the main culprits of halitosis (bad breath).  Consuming these high protein foods also feeds the bacteria living in our mouths and intestinal tracts.  The waste products of those bacteria can produce some stinky byproducts.

Driving by a feed lot, it is hard to ignore the foul odor which is actually created by a sulfur compound called methyl mercaptan -- this same sulfur compound is excreted as a waste product by our own oral bacteria as it feeds on particles of decaying meat debris found in gum lines and wedged in between teeth.These sulfur compounds are known by dentists as "volatile sulfur compounds" (VSC's).

Volatile sulfur compounds are the main culprits of bad breath, but the oral bacteria that feed on animal protein actually produce a variety of stinky waste products such as:
  • Cadaverine (taking its name from the smell of corpses)
  • Putrescine (taking its name from the putrid smell of decaying meat)
  • Skatole (this emanates the smell of  fecal matter)
  • Isovaleric Acid (think smelly feet)

To rid your mouth of these nasty bacterial byproducts, stick to a diet full of fruits and vegetables.  High fiber, crunchy plant food increases saliva production which keeps the bacteria at bay. Vitamin C is especially helpful in limiting oral bacteria because it creates an unfriendly environment for bacterial growth.  Get your vitamin C from fresh produce (citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers) rather than from supplements. 

It has long been known that parsley fights halitosis, but other herbs are helpful as well to include cardamon, rosemary, tarragon, coriander, eucalyptus and spearmint.
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