Why Low Carb Diets May Cause Bad Breath

July 28, 2020, 3V Dental Associates

What Causes Bad Breath When Following a Low Carb Diet?
What Causes Bad Breath When Following a Low Carb Diet?
If you are one of the many people who is on a low carbohydrates diet, there's a lot to love. After all, the main staples are delicious foods like meats, cheese, eggs, and fish. There's no room for carbs or sugar, just for foods with a lot of fat and protein. Many swear by this diet to lose weight as well. However, one of the things you might not have thought about is the fact that very low-carb diets often have an impact on your breath in a negative manner even if you practice good dental hygiene.

What Causes Bad Breath When Following a Low Carb Diet?

These low carb diets include the trendy Atkins diet and the ketogenic diet, among others. In recent years they have been widely debated in the field of nutrition. Basically, they rely on the person dieting to consume fewer than 30 grams of carbohydrates on a daily basis. In doing this, the body moves into a state of ketosis. This means that the body breaks down fat that is stored as opposed to breaking down carbs to get energy. Ketones are released within the body when this diet is undertaken.

The increase of ketones may be the biggest reason for you bad breath, but there are other factors that can contribute, too. “The initial period of water loss in the body in the early stages of a low-carb diet can lead to dry mouth, another source of bad breath,” says Dr. Irina Kellerman-Volk, a dentist from Port Washigton, New York.

Not only are these ketones in your body, they are also present in your breath. This leads to a smell that can be characterized as something resembling rotten fruit or metal. Many dieters have firsthand accounts of this becoming a problem for them, no joke. It can be a serious headache, as something like this can lead to some issues with your mental health and have an effect on your dating and social life, among other things. Sadly, the positive vibes you're getting from losing the weight can be offset with negative vibes from this unfortunate side effect.

This addition of ketones into your breath is the largest reason for the bad breath, however there are a few other aspects that also contribute to the problem. There is a loss of water in the body during the earlier stages of these low-carb diets. This leads to things like dry mouth, which is another common reason for having bad breath.


How Can I Prevent Bad Breath on a Low Carb Diet?

There is a difference between this dietary related problem and your typical bad breath problem. You might be thinking: Why not just do what you do when you don't brush your teeth or floss enough, have gum disease or you simply just ate a bunch of onion rings? You would think that practicing strict and clean dental hygiene might make it go away. Normally this might entail simply brushing your teeth, gargling down some Listerine, actually flossing, and popping a breath mint or two.

It is just not that simple, though. The above problems occur because of an overabundance of bacteria in the system. This low-carb diet problem is because these ketones have been released. The irony is that not eating sugar or starch is probably a good thing for your overall oral health. These foods increase the level of acid in your mouth and this is a place where bacteria can thrive.

There are a few things that you can try though if you are suffering from this problem. This includes drinking plenty of water for starters. In addition, cloves, fresh mint leaves, and fennel seeds are all helpful in lessening the smell. Dr. Kellerman-Volk also recommends that you have a pack of sugar-free gum handy. Make sure this gum is of the xylitol variety and sugar-free!

The best way to minimize this problem is really just to eat more foods with carbs and simply practice as much good nutrition as you possibly can under the rules you have in place. This might include certain fruits and vegetables. Keeping a happy medium is important with this, since you don't want to exit ketosis with too much of these foods.
Of course, if you are very concerned with this matter it might be wise to consult a dentist for advice. An experienced dentist may be able to give you a first hand opinion and actually give you the best products for oral care to alleviate the bad breath as much as possible. Because many people are starting these kinds of diets, you might be surprised at how often your dentist gets asked similar questions in regards to this problem.
This bad breath problem does not happen to everyone. Some people are luckier than others. If you are on a low carb diet and are worried this might be an issue, ask your friends and family if they've noticed anything. If it is an issue, you may be forced to sacrifice losing weight and staying on the diet with bad breath. Finally, if you know anyone who is considering this type of diet, make sure to at least give them a heads up about this side effect.

 

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