(NaturalNews) There are few things more unpleasant and uncomfortable in social situations than talking to someone with bad breath. And if you suffer from chronic bad breath (halitosis) yourself, you already know how embarrassing it can be talking to other people who you know can smell it. For many people, grabbing a mint or a piece of gum is their go-to solution, as it quickly masks the problem. But this approach often fails to address the root causes of bad breath, which for many people includes dietary deficiency.
Regularly brushing your teeth and tongue, especially after meals, as well as flossing daily, swishing with hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, and getting periodic teeth cleanings are, of course, the first places to start when addressing bad breath issues. But if the problem persists beyond all this, you may have some kind of nutritional deficiency or underlying health condition that requires other interventions as well. Here are five natural ways to help cure the problem of bad breath at the systemic level through diet:
1) Drink more water. Believe it or not, dehydration is one of the most common causes of bad breath. Many people drink far too little water throughout the day to ward off the bacteria in the mouth that are most responsible for causing bad breath. Tiny microbes in the mouth actually feed on loose food particles throughout the day, releasing odor-causing byproducts that end up stinking up breath. And all-natural saliva, it turns out, is your body's built-in remedy for eliminating these bacteria.
But in order for your body to produce enough bacteria-fighting saliva, you must be drinking plenty of clean, fluoride-free water throughout the day. Since saliva is full of oxygen, bacteria have a much harder time surviving because they require low-oxygen environments in order to thrive. Saliva also contains natural enzymes that help stimulate the production of antibodies that neutralize bacteria, which end up getting eliminated when you swish with water, mouthwash, or other oral hygiene products.
2) Supplement with zinc. Another common cause of halitosis is a deficiency in the mineral zinc, which helps maintain a clean, bacteria-free mouth. Some mouthwash products actually contain zinc as an active ingredient because the mineral is a known antimicrobial, and aids in the neutralization and elimination of harmful germs. But supplementing with oral zinc and eating more zinc-rich foods like pumpkin and gourd seeds, cacao, and organ meats, for instance, might be an even better approach, as it can help address the problem systemically.
"Zinc deficiency is associated with poor healing, immunity and inflammation," writes Heather Caruso in her book, Your Drug-Free Guide to Digestive Health. "Halitosis from oral disease can benefit from zinc supplementation (http://www.naturalpedia.com).
3) Drink stinging nettle tea daily. Since bad breath can also stem from a buildup of heavy metals, yeast overgrowth, and other toxins inside the body, it is important to regularly flush your system via dietary interventions. And one way you can do this is by taking stinging nettle or drinking stinging nettle tea. A powerful herb that has been shown to purify the blood and eliminate toxins from the body, stinging nettle helps stimulate the lymphatic system, increase the excretion of uric acid through the kidneys, and boost adrenal function, all of which target halitosis at its root.
"Bad breath is often indicative of toxemia or defective elimination via liver," explains Bartram's Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine: The Definitive Guide. This helpful manual goes on to suggest not only nettle, but also alfalfa sprouts, parsley, peppermint, dill, fennel, sage, licorice, dandelion goldenseal, echinacea, wild yam, myrrh, lemon, and chlorophyll tablets as viable treatment options for bad breath (http://astore.amazon.com/NNbooks-20/detail/1854875868/105-4703199-0991601).
4) Take probiotics. Along these same lines, poor gut health is another common cause of bad breath. If your digestive tract is overloaded with built-up toxins, for instance, or if routine antibiotic use and poor dietary habits have left your digestive system in shambles, bad breath could merely be a side effect of another underlying problem. And supplementing with probiotic flora or eating more probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, fermented sauerkraut and kombucha tea just might be the remedy.
A study published in the journal Current Opinion in Gastroenterology back in 2011 found that probiotic supplements actually help replace odor-causing oral microbes with beneficial varieties, effectively nipping bad breath in the bud. Other studies have identified specific probiotic strains such as Lactobacillus salivarius that directly target harmful bacterial strains in the mouth, and reduce or eliminate the volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) responsible for causing bad breath (http://www.huffingtonpost.com).
5) Eat more carrots, celery, and apples. Crunchy fruits and vegetables that are rich in fiber are also beneficial in the fight against bad breath. Eating more carrots, celery, and apples, for instance, can help scrape out the plaque buildups that are responsible for causing more mild or infrequent forms of bad breath, as well as add an extra dose of immune-boosting nutrients to your diet. These foods also help trigger an increased production of bacteria-fighting saliva inside the mouth.