Did you know that there are certain foods that may lead to bad breath? This is because of volatile sulfur compounds – the culprit in causing bad breath!
That spoiling action is due to anaerobic bacteria breaking down proteins in that particular food. In milk, the odor of sour milk results from relatives of those bugs that produce bad breath when they break down proteins in the milk (and basically in all dairy foods). In particular, the amino acid Cysteine is converted to Hydrogen Sulfide (which has a rotten egg odor ) and Methionine becomes Methyl Mercaptan (which smells like a cross between old socks and garlic). The same analogy applies to meat if it sits out too long.
Everyone knows that garlic and onions will make bad breath. But do you know why? It is because the odorous molecules in onions and garlic are sulfur compounds themselves called Mercaptans. Sulfur is nature’s way of creating odors. You are all familiar with the skunk. Its odor is made by a defense and/or attack mechanism. Skunk odor is composed of skatoles, which can be naturally occurring sulfur compounds. In a similar fashion, bacteria in your mouth creates the volatile sulfur compounds of bad breath and taste disorders.
There are 4 food categories that will result in an increase of sulfur production because these groups have a stimulating impact on the bacteria that cause bad breath:
1. Drying Agents
2. Dense Protein Foods
4. Acidic Foods
Let’s look closely at each of these food groups and how they stimulate bad breath!
The most frequent drying agent in food is alcohol. Alcohol of course, is the basis of all”adult” beverages such as beer, wine, and hard liquor. Additionally it is used, sadly, in many mouthwashes that you see in the grocery stores, which only makes a bad breath problem worse.
Alcohol, known as a desiccant, is used quite often in labs to”dry out” hard to reach areas in test tubes and beakers. The same end result takes place in the oral cavity.
Although cigarettes are not really food, smoking is probably the quickest way to dry your mouth out, with alcohol being the second. If you smoke, you’re sure to have bad breath!
DENSE PROTEIN FOODS
Dairy foods are notorious for creating bad breath. An article that appeared in the”Los Angeles Times” once noted that over 50 percent of the population in Southern California had been”lactose intolerant”. With respect to bad breath, many of these people (numbering in the tens of millions) end up with more dense proteins accessible as bad breath fuel for the bacteria than those who have no issue with dairy foods such as milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, etc.. The end result is a buildup of amino acids, which are easily converted into volatile sulfur compounds from the anaerobic bacteria found within the surface of your tongue and throat.
To a lesser extent, individuals have the same problem with other kinds of food that are thought of as dense in protein such as poultry, beef, and fish.
Another problem, thankfully rare, has to do with people who have an inability to break down certain proteins found in beans. This condition is named TMA (Trimethylaminuria) and is sometimes known as the”Fish Odor Syndrome,” because the odor produced is similar to decaying fish. The odor includes sulfur compounds, plus nitrogen compounds (amines). Individuals with this condition must abstain from beans and other kinds of food which are dense in protein.
Wouldn’t it be great if we can get rid of bad breath by chewing on M&Ms?
That is what the makers of Altoids would have you believe. Altoids, and other products of the same ilk, are trying to fool the general public into thinking that a strong”good” taste in your mouth is equal to the”freshness” of your breath. This is so anti-scientific it is absurd! If you think about it for a minute, it really doesn’t make any sense.
But, Altoids contains two different types of sugar which again, are a fuel for the bacteria to reproduce and create more sulfur compounds – hence bad breath. In addition, the frightening part is that other germs can take the sugars and produce glycan strands, which then end up causing thick layers of plaque on the enamel of your teeth and around your gums. This leads to tooth decay and gum disease – and you guessed it – worse breath than you started with!
As you can’t smell your own breath, then you just go merrily along with that terrific strong mint taste in your mouth, while others near you’re backing away – backing away from the increased bad breath, decayed teeth, and gross, swollen, bleeding gums!
Stay away from candies, mints, and chewing gum should they contain sugar!
Foods with a high acidic content are a problem also. pH is a term used to describe the acidity of an environment. The oral cavity has a normal pH of 6.5 (7 is considered neutral). A few of the foods you should watch out for are java and many citrus juices. Both decaffeinated and regular coffee contain acids. However, tea is fine. Among the citrus juices the ones with the highest acidic content include tomato juice, orange juice, pineapple juice, and grapefruit juice.
We know that acids make the bacteria reproduce much faster. So as to lower the production of odorous sulfur compounds, the acid environment has to be neutralized.
What can you learn from all of this? Avoiding foods that lead to, if not cause, bad breath is vital if you would like to have clean fresh breath. While this is a difficult task, being mindful of these halitosis causing elements is the first step in developing confidence in your breath. Additionally, it is important to employ oral care products that are free of alcohol, sugar, and that also have a high pH level.