Halitosis, more commonly known as “bad breath”, is a common source of embarrassment and social discomfort. While mouthwashes, gum, and mints may provide temporary relief,
Most people are probably already aware that bad breath is typically related to poor oral hygiene, diet, and various medical conditions.
But a deeper look at the problem reveals that bad breath is due to the presence of volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) produced by bacteria in the mouth. This gives researchers an opportunity to quantify the presence and degree of bad breath.
As researchers continue to explore this relationship between bacteria and odor-causing compounds, new insights are emerging for potential solutions to bad breath.
Fermented Foods and Good Bacteria
Fermented foods, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi, are created through a process of fermentation.
Bacteria or yeast break down the sugar and starch in food, producing lactic acid and other organic acids. This process preserves the food and enhances its flavor and nutritional value.
One of the key benefits of fermented foods is that they contain probiotics, or “good” bacteria, that can help to promote a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut and oral cavity. By taking up space in your microbiome ecosystem, probiotic bacteria can outcompete harmful bacteria, reduce the risk of infectious disease, and inhibit the production of VSCs, thereby reducing bad breath.
What Does the Research Say?
A recent study published in the BMJ Open journal investigated the effect of probiotics on halitosis. The study was a meta-analysis of 7 randomized controlled trials that compared the effects of probiotics with a placebo on bad breath.
The results showed that in the short term (less than 4 weeks), the use of probiotics led to a significant reduction in participants’ levels of VSCs compared to the placebo group. However, the effect was not as prominent beyond 4 weeks.
How to Incorporate Fermented Foods into Your Diet
Introducing fermented foods into your diet can be easy and delicious.
Here are a few simple ways to get started:
● Try incorporating a serving of yogurt into your breakfast routine. Choose a plain, unsweetened yogurt to avoid added sugars.
● Snack on a few pieces of pickled vegetables, like pickles, kimchi, or sauerkraut, as a crunchy and flavorful alternative to traditional chips and dips.
● Give kombucha a try, a fermented tea that can serve as a tasty alternative to soda or juice.
● Add kefir to your smoothies or recipes for a boost of probiotics and a tangy flavor.