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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.