Document 153383

DAILY NATION Wednesday June 6, 2012
Foods that get rid of bad breath
ollowing our article on herbal teas
last week, we got an email from a reader
requesting us to give her a list of foods that
will not leave her with bad breath.
Essentially, bad breath is caused by two
key factors: Poor oral hygiene and the state
of your gastrointestinal health. Bad breath
originates not just from the mouth, but
also from the digestive tract and can be
made worse by the food you eat.
and tend to dry the mouth, creating a more
favourable environment for bacteria.
. If your mouth is dry, drink plenty of water.
Swoosh it around your mouth for at least 20
seconds to loosen any food particles the bacteria
can feed upon.
Note that bad breath could be an indication
of a health problem. It is, therefore, advisable
to consult a doctor, especially if your problem
Foods such as melons and carrots reduce build-up of
bacteria in the mouth. So does water.
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The relationship between food
and breath
If you eat foods with strong odours,
such as garlic or onions, brushing
your teeth and flossing or using
mouthwash merely covers up the
strong smell temporarily. It will
only go away completely until the
food has passed through your
If you have bad breath, you should
first make sure you are eating right. A
balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates,
lots of fruits and vegetables and plenty of
fluids will keep your gastrointestinal tract
healthy. So will brushing your teeth and
flossing after every meal.
These foods will fight bad
. Many of you have probably heard of
the effectiveness of parsley in getting
rid of a garlic breath. All you have to do is
chew on fresh leaves. Also try coriander,
spearmint, tarragon, eucalyptus,
rosemary, and cardamom, all of which
fight bad breath. Chlorophyll is a natural
breath freshener and is found in leafy
green vegetables. After meals, chew on
fresh herbs or make tonics by steeping
the herbs in hot water, like you do tea
leaves to make tea. These herbs also aid
. A recent study found that a serving
of yoghurt daily reduces the level
of odour-causing hydrogen sulphide in
the mouth. Apparently, it also reduces
bacteria in the mouth and helps to prevent
plaque and gum disease. You also get
vitamin D from yoghurt, a vitamin that
creates an inhospitable environment for
bacteria growth. However, get the kind of
yogurt with active cultures — not overly
processed or sugar-added varieties.
. Eat crunchy vegetables that increase
saliva production, for instance apples,
carrots, and celery. Eating foods that
increase saliva production keeps the
mouth moist and rinses it out, reducing
build-up of bacteria. Since carbohydrates
and proteins tend to get stuck between
the teeth, follow meals with a fruit, such
as a crisp apple, to cleanse the mouth.
. Eat food with high vitamin C
content. Berries, citrus fruits, melons
and other vitamin C-rich foods create an
inhospitable environment for bacterial
growth. A diet rich in vitamin C also helps
to prevent gum disease and gingivitis,
both major causes of halitosis. Try and
get your dose of vitamin C through foods
rather than supplements, since the latter
can cause gastrointestinal upset in some
people and exacerbate bad breath.
. Sugarless gum freshens breath and
increases saliva production, which
rinses away plaque and bacteria. Mints
can mask bad breath as well, but only
briefly. Go for the sugarless variety since
sugar creates plaque, which makes breath
worse. Also avoid breath mints and
mouthwashes that contain alcohol since
they only temporarily cover the odour
Paracetamol kills the pain, but is it all good?
SINCE I got my baby, my husband
has been keen for me to give her
some Calpol (infant paracetamol).
He is convinced that this is all
she needs to sleep through the
night so that we can catch up on
some much-needed rest. As I have
explained to him, if the medicine
did manage to send her to sleep,
then it would not be good for her
health. Why give medication that
is not needed?
This brings me to a study that
was published last month in the
American Journal of Respiratory
and Critical Care. It reported that
taking a common over-the-counter painkiller may increase the risk
of asthma and related conditions
in young people. That is definitely
a reason to choose a home-remedy or other natural approaches to
The researchers found that 13and 14-year-olds who took paracetamol as little as once a month,
were 2.5 times more likely to have
asthma symptoms than those who
did not take it. For those who had
taken paracetamol at least once
in the past year, 43 per cent were
more likely to have signs of the illness than non-users. Crucially, the
more frequently they had taken
paracetamol, the higher their risk.
Rates of asthma in Kenya and
other parts of the world are on the
rise. While no one really knows for
certain why, some experts point
Some experts believe that widespread use of paracetamol may have
something to do with the rise of asthma and related conditions.
to the hygiene hypothesis, which
suggests that many children today
have underdeveloped immune systems because they live in cleaner
environments and get fewer infections. This in turn means that their
immune systems may be more
susceptible to misfiring, leading to
asthma attacks, eczema, allergies,
and other related problems.
But other experts believe that
the widespread use of paracetamol may also play a role. Paracetamol is taken by children and adults
alike for relieving aches and pains,
and to reduce fever. Its use has
increased substantially in the past
30 years and, interestingly, parallels the rise in asthma and related
To add weight to the paracetamol hypothesis, other research
has shown that there is indeed
a higher risk of asthma among
young children who take paracetamol, as well as among those
whose mothers took this medicine
while pregnant.
How reliable are the findings of
this recent study? Well, this was
an extremely large study involving 320,000 adolescents across
50 countries. I must say that the
results are compelling. While
some question the cause and effect in the study, as well as the
reliability of 13- and 14-year-olds,
the study still adds to the growing
body of research suggesting that
paracetamol may play a role in the
development of these illnesses.
The researchers do not really
know why paracetamol might
increase the risk of these conditions, but believe the drug could
affect how our immune systems
responds to perceived threats.
As a nutritionist, I believe it may
have some link to the effect of the
medication on the levels of healthy
bacteria that live in our guts. The
lack of these bacteria has already
been implicated in conditions like
childhood eczema, allergies, autism, and hyperactivity.
So, what is the best course of
action for you and your family?
While the jury may still be debating the effects of paracetamol, I
personally would steer clear of
it (and other painkillers) unless
it is absolutely necessary — it is
surprising how a headache simply
disappears once you stop thinking
about it.
The writer is a clinical nutritionist and certified by the Nutritional Therapy Council in the
UK. Please direct any questions
about family nutrition to her on
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