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Your Ultimate List of Foods That Affect Your Breath

You don’t have to be a foodie to know that certain foods in our diet can adversely affect your breath.


If you’ve had an Italian mean loaded with garlic, or a spicy Tex-Mex meal that came smothered in onions, you will have felt the desperation to cover up that smell before you got into close contact with others.

Which of these foods are affecting your breath?

However, in addition to the classic offenders, did you know that there are some foods that can cause issues over time with your breath?


Keep reading to learn about the foods that you should avoid prior to going to an interview or if you are on a date. We’ll also throw in some foods that can be beneficial for your breath for good measure!


Surprise foods that cause bad breath


You might already know that acid foods can be bad for you gum line and lead to the erosion of enamel, but did you know that foods like citrus fruits lead to bad breath as well? The bacteria in your mouth that can cause bad breath feed on the acids in citrus fruit. Therefore, after eating acidic foods those bacteria will more quickly multiply and make your breath more potent.


For those of you on a keto-diet or any other that focuses on high-protein consumption, you might have noticed a by-product is a foul odor that seems to come from deep in the mouth.


As your body works to break down protein, it produces excessive ammonia from deep in your stomach. That smell of ammonia escapes through your mouth. To help dissipate the odor, try snacking on foods high in zinc like spinach or pumpkin seeds when you eat a heavy-protein meal. These foods help absorb the odor.


You might not think much about cheese or its effect on your breath, but the amino acids contained within cheese actually mix with the bacteria in your mouth to produce a sulfur compound. If you’ve ever smelled the distinct rotten-egg odor on your breath, you might be able to blame cheese.


The only way to ensure this smelly reaction doesn’t happen is to kill the bacteria in your mouth through an excellent oral health routine. Using a fluorinated toothpaste and flossing regularly will help rid your mouth of these lingering bacteria.


Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches might have been a staple of your childhood diet, but now they can lead to more than just a wider waistline. Peanut butter’s paste-like consistency makes it difficult for saliva to break the proteins down once they’re in your mouth (not to mention all the sugar in most peanut butter). And because of how sticky it is, peanut butter can stay in your mouth for hours between brushings. This can result in bacteria rapidly multiplying with can lead to a higher likelihood of bad breath.


If you do choose to indulge in some peanut butter, remember to wash it down with some water or maybe a glass of milk. Cleaning out your mouth of food particles is one of the best ways to prevent bacteria build up and bad breath, no matter the culprit.


Obvious offenders


If you have ever had an authentic Italian meal then you know what happens when you consume copious amounts of garlic. While you know that the smell of garlic can linger on your breath, did you know that garlic is also absorbed into your bloodstream, enabling a secondary wave of odor to make its way into your lungs where it freely escapes through the mouth? Once absorbed, garlic then emits a bitter scent from your pores. It is important to rid your mouth of all garlic residue to ensure it stops the absorption into the body.


Just like garlic, onions have the same sulfuric compounds that get absorbed into your bloodstream. That means it is important to get rid of all lingering food particles as soon as possible. For those Tex-Mex lovers out there, don’t worry, you don’t need to get rid of onions completely—just practice good oral health habits!


Foods for good breath


Eating doesn’t only cause bad breath. In fact, there are some foods that can actually help cure the bad smells.


Some of the best options include raw fruits and vegetables. First, these foods require lots of chewing, which spurs the production of saliva. The more saliva in your mouth, the easier it is to wash away bacteria that causes bad odors.


Next, fibers and crunchy foods act like natural toothbrushes, and can wash away excess food particles. Raw fruits and veggies are a healthy option for the whole body!


Probiotics have been proven to help stabilize your GI system, but did you know they can also stabilize bacteria levels in your mouth? Yogurt with probiotics contains good bacteria. Studies have shown that these good bacteria can lower the levels of sulfite compounds in your mouth that are responsible for bad breath. When choosing a yogurt, make sure to avoid any that are high in sugar since that can actually cause more harm to your teeth.


Beverages that have oral health benefits are clear teas, such as white and green. These variations are less likely to stain your teeth. Properties in these teas have been shown to kill off the oral bacteria that leads to bad breath. If that isn’t enough, studies have shown that individuals who drank these teas suffered less gum recession and bleeding compared to those who chose other drinks. In addition, some researchers have also found that green tea can reduce oral cancer risks.


Finally, if bad breath weren’t so common a problem, then grocery stores wouldn’t be stocked with so many mint flavored gums. In a pinch we commonly reach for a stick of gum. As dentists we advocate for sugar free gum as opposed to a sticky peppermint candy that can cause more harm than good. Chewing sugarless gum loosens both food and dead cells from your teeth, which are what your mouth bacteria need to create bad breath. Without anything to digest, you’re in the clear. Look for gum sweetened with xylitol, a healthy sugar alternative that naturally inhibits mouth bacteria.

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