How Your Gut Connects to Your Breath

Are you experiencing bad breath, despite brushing your teeth all day, every day? Chances are your teeth are not the actual problem. Sure, dental hygiene matters, but often the root cause of bad breath lies even deeper, past the teeth and mouth and into your gut. When we talk about bad breath, what we’re really talking about is gut health. Here’s the real reason why you have bad breath – and what you can do about it.

Gut Bacteria

In Chinese medicine, the tongue is an important diagnostic tool that can tell you a lot about your digestive health. A thickly coated tongue is a sign of weak or badly-functioning digestion. If the balance between the good and bad bacteria in your gut is off, you may start to experience more than just digestive discomforts. Breath that smells less than fresh is a common symptom of dysbiosis – an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in your gut, as well as yeast or candida in the gut. You may even notice that your bad breath gets worse when you’ve eaten too much sugar. That’s because the yeast, candida and bad bacteria feeds on sugar and thrives when our diet is loaded with the sweet stuff.

Try doing a cleanse to clean out your gut, using gentle herbs and fiber. You can even continue taking antimicrobial herbs for a while after the cleanse to really make sure you’ve killed all the bad guys. You also want to repopulate the gut with good bacteria, known as probiotics.

Toxic Overload

Bad breath can also be a sign of toxic overload and a good indicator to start cleaning up your diet and avoid chemicals in food and cosmetics. Toxins are a burden on our organs of detoxification including the liver, GI tract and skin. When these get overworked they might not be able to dispose of the toxins properly. Bad breath is one of the common signs and symptoms of toxic overload.

Dry Mouth

Stress and dehydration can also be a factor in bad breath. A side effect from stress can be dry mouth. In a dry mouth, dead cells tend to stick to the tongue and the insides of the mouth and bacteria feeds on these dead cells producing a bad odor in the process. This is also why many of us experience bad breath in the morning when our mouth has been dry and inactive all night.

Fast-Acting Remedies:

Treating the underlying cause and balancing the gut flora will take a little time, so in addition to cleaning out your gut and taking probiotics, here are some natural remedies you can try to help relieve the symptoms.

1. Probiotics and Fermented Foods

Take a high dose of probiotics to help your body better digest foods, repopulate the gut with a healthy flora and fight off yeast and other troublemakers. Also, include fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir to your diet which all contains lots of delicious and healthy good bacteria.

2. Fiber

Help the detox process and digestive system along by eating enough fiber. It helps you stay regular and actually remove the toxins as they get processed by the body.

3. Oil Pulling

This is an Ayurvedic technique that involves swooshing oil around your mouth for 20 minutes, ideally first thing in the morning. It’s actually believed to help pull out toxins and will at least help remove any dead cells that were built up over night.

4. Tongue Scraper

A tongue scraper is a handy tool to remove the white coating on your tongue where bacteria and food can linger and cause a less-than-fresh breath.

5. Warming Spices

Help boost your digestive function with warming herbs such as ginger, turmeric, fennel and black pepper. Try having a cup of ginger tea 20 minutes before your meal to get all the digestive juices flowing. Also, try chewing on some cloves – a natural anti-bacterial that can help relieve bad breath.

6. Digestive Enzymes

Because a weakened digestive system can cause bad breath try taking digestive enzymes with your meals to assist your body in breaking down the food.

7. Baking Soda

Baking soda is a great toothpaste ingredient, especially if you like to make your own. It changes the pH level in your mouth, making it a less desirable environment for bacteria to grow. Just dip a damp toothbrush in baking soda and brush your teeth and tongue with it.

8. Water and Green Tea

Stay hydrated and avoid dry mouth by drinking water. Drinking green tea, with its high dose of antioxidants can also help fight bacterial growth in the mouth.


  • Anna

    As a mouth wash, Tulsi tea can treat bad breath, mouth ulcers and prevent dental plaque.
    Thus, it appears that people may benefit from swishing and gargling their Tulsi
    tea before swallowing it.
    Kukreja, B. J. and V. Dodwad (2012). “Herbal
    mouthwashes – A gift of nature.” International Journal of Pharma and Bio


  • Anonymous

    Thanks Anna. That’s a great tip!

    – Katrine

  • arjun3

    very informational article.thank you very much.

  • kterbo

    Katrine, I clicked on you article because of your title, about your gut! (I am a holistic coach too) I had had very bad halitosis for years! I used every kind of tooth past and mouthwash and used baking soda and even bough tongue scrapers…. It was only temporary fix. :( I mean a two hour fix. Then I read about the gut and how the gut needs to be acidic and I get rid of all antacids…and start to take of the mother apple cider vinegar. That was a day fix..I had thought wow, this is the first time in 3 years I have a day long fix. LIke 24hr,…..I was happy, so I did that for 6 months and continued my reading. Ok then I read about fermented foods,… I more stuff that was good for gut… and I read about homemade kombucha. Ok, so it takes me a few months to learn how to make perfect yet strong scoby culture…and good Kombucha as I was nervous. By the second batch of two gallon kombucha, I got it perfect… I leave my mine the strong side. I wanted you to know.. that I had no bad breath for months,… even with morning dry mouth. I am still wowed. One or two cups even every other day.or day.. and some days I forget to brush my teeth. I threw away all my tongue scrapers… and moth washes and do not need backing soda anymore either, my total go too. This was a three year journey. It is all the gut!! For I wake with very fresh breath. I wanted you to know and to try… :) My kombucha a drink right out of the cup. ..And now have a scoby hotel…for my scoby’s are so darn health and grow so big. I do not flavor and only use organic everything, and distilled water. I don’t even share my kombucha with others because to me it is not a drink but gut, breathe maintenance. I only start getting small bad breathe when it has been to long since I drank some. I hope you experiment yourself. :) kyra renee

  • Sarah Thompson

    Please share your drink recipe. My grandmother always I had bad breath and said it was her stomach. I never really thought about it until it happened to me. I’m 36 and my breath smells like death all the time. It’s disgusting. I know I have digestive problems but the bad breath issue is overwhelming. Thanks for this post definitely going to start doing some of these steps.

  • Dee Dave

    Can you give us your Kombucha recipe

  • Nour Jamal

    Thank u for posting your experiences it was so useful! We hope u share the drink too ❤️

  • Veera Mani Velraj

    I have no problem in my teeth…but even bad breath from intestine..what is the actual problem of me??.. routinely bad breath from my mouth… it’s like some odour & bad smell…please tell me about what kind of problem this..?? And what I wil do to reduce for this??