Garlic and onion are the most paradigmatic cases of foods prescribed by dietitians to lose weight can predispose to halitosis, but there are also others such as artichoke, cabbage, cauliflower, cabbage or broccoli that can cause it. “These foods are rich in sulfur, which predisposes to the appearance of bad breath,” says Dr. Jonas Nunes, director of the Breath Institute.
To help solve this problem, Dr. Nunes contributes in his book “How to take care of your breath. The Definitive Guide”, some tips:
1. Avoid foods with intense smell. After ingested, the food is subjected to a set of chemical and physical transformations, to become smaller compounds with capacity to be absorbed. The nutrients cross the permeable walls of the small intestine and through the bloodstream, reach the liver, where it is carried out, among other processes, the neutralization of certain malodor compounds. Odor compounds present in the blood are usually excreted through the lung along with other gases, such as carbon dioxide. The amount of malodor released depends on the type of food, the dose, how it has been prepared – raw garlic has a greater impact on halitosis than cooked garlic – and individual susceptibility factors. The smell caused in the breath is not always identical to the food ingested, and in some people may manifest as a distinct unpleasant smell.
2. Avoid alcoholic beverages. Its consumption predisposes to the appearance of bad breath. The oxidation of ethanol occurs initially in the mouth and, later, it becomes more predominant in the liver (being able to last several hours), giving rise to various malodor compounds, such as acetaldehyde. Alcohol is also a dehydrating agent, contributing to the volatilization of salivary malodour compounds.
3. Hydrate continuously and stimulate salivation. Dehydration states, such as those related to reduced fluid intake, promote a decrease in saliva production, with the consequent stagnation of food residues in the mouth and subsequent degradation by oral bacteria. On the other hand, the decrease in salivary thickness promotes the volatilization of odor compounds dissolved in saliva.
4. Eat solid foods rich in fiber. Foods richer in fiber provide more vigorous chewing and promote salivary production (unlike liquid or pasty foods). It should also be taken into account the absence of the scraper / cleansing effect that some solid foods exert when rubbed on the tongue, contributing to the elimination of the detritus and the bacteria that produce the bad smell that accumulate on it. This is the most frequent cause of halitosis. Several studies have found a clear increase in volatile sulfur compounds (CSVs) during the fasting period, a value that drops rapidly after ingestion of food without a cosmetic odor, such as a piece of bread.
5. Eat a minimum of carbohydrates or acid substances. Glucose is the substrate or food of several of the oral bacteria that predominate in saliva. This leads them to produce an acid pH that inhibits the proliferation of halitosis-producing bacteria, which act at alkaline pH. On the other hand, there are bacteria that can use both glucose and proteins as a substrate. In the absence of the first, they metabolize proteins (whose products have a bad smell and also contribute to the existence of a more alkaline pH).
6. Avoid a diet too hyperproteic. High-protein diets (such as Atkins, Dukan or South Beach) are the most susceptible to bad breath due to the high intake of amino acids (elementary units in the structure of a protein), as these molecules are used by bacteria for production of bad smell compounds.
7. Eat every four hours. Prolonged fasting tends to cause halitosis. The states of hypoglycemia (decreased blood sugar values) induce the body to use alternative metabolic pathways to replenish the blood sugar level (mainly from the conversion of proteins and fats). These processes generate malodorous compounds. This conversion is important to lose weight, but there is no added benefit in causing extreme hypoglycemia triggering bad breath when dieting or fasting. Also the absence of mastication during a long period of time (with the consequent reduction of the salivary production) is a factor that contributes to this situation, because there is a stagnation and consequent putrefaction.