(NaturalNews) Ever had bad breath? You're in good company: The American Dental Association says at least one-quarter of the population suffers from bad breath on a regular basis, but just about everyone has had it at least a few times -- after all, who hasn't experienced the stale, stinky "morning breath" that often occurs after a night's sleep? But while toothpaste and mouthwash companies would have you think that the only cure for bad breath lies in dousing your mouth with harsh chemicals, there are actually many natural remedies for this all-too-common problem. Here are six strategies to end bad breath once and for all:
The power of water
Your mouth has powerful freshening powers of its own, thanks to the bacteria-fighting properties of saliva. But when we don't drink enough fluids, our mouths can get dry, providing an ideal environment for harmful bacteria to grow and thrive. Low levels of saliva also allow food particles to become trapped between teeth and under the gums where they provide a ready food source for these tiny organisms. As food particles are broken down, harmful bacteria release gases that are the primary cause of bad breath. To combat these problems, simply drink more water throughout the day to help your mouth stay moist and in bacteria-fighting mode.
Pamper the good bacteria
In addition to those "bad" bacteria that cause bad breath, your mouth also contains helpful bacteria that aid in digestion and combat the harmful bacteria as well as germs and other pathogens. Scientists have found that pampering the "good" bacteria enables them to flourish so they can fight off the bacteria that are the underlying cause of bad breath. (2) The best way to do that: Consume more probiotic-rich foods like yogurt with live cultures, kombucha tea and fermented sauerkraut or kimchee.
Zeal for zinc
Ever smell a rotten egg or caught a whiff of gas coming from your stove burner before the flame catches? That's sulfur, and it's also what makes your breath smell. Volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) are released when those "bad" bacteria break down food particles in your mouth. Zinc works by neutralizing VSCs so they don't cause odor.
Parsley and friends
Among herbs, parsley is probably the one that's most often linked with helping to provide fresh breath, but there are other choices which can be equally as effective, including alfalfa sprouts, dandelion, dill, sage and fennel. And if munching on herbs doesn't appeal to you, spinach and nettles are also effective. All of these herbs and vegetables get their breath-freshening power primarily from the same source: chlorophyll. Chlorophyll has natural antibacterial properties that kill odor-causing bacteria. In fact, as far back as 1950, physicians were beginning to recognize the potent odor-squelching benefits of chlorophyll, both in solving bad breath and in helping prevent body odor. (3) Many of these herbs, as well as nettle, also help cleanse the blood, preventing the buildup of yeast and other organisms that can also contribute to halitosis.
Reach for raw
Crunchy, raw vegetables and fruits help remove plaque and food particles to keep your mouth naturally clean, and because most fresh fruits and veggies have a high water content and help spur the production of saliva, they can also help ensure your mouth stays well hydrated throughout the day. Many fruits and vegetables also contain important nutrients to help fight off illnesses that can promote bad breath. When selecting produce, make sure that you select organic fruits and vegetables to increase the health benefits and avoid ingestion of harmful chemicals.
Get enough C
Eating foods high in vitamin C like citrus fruits, berries, peppers and melon helps create a mildly acidic environment which is inhospitable to the bacteria that cause bad breath. Vitamin C can also help prevent gum disease and plaque buildup which can also contribute to halitosis.
Having bad breath doesn't have to mean that you're doomed to a life as a social pariah, nor does it mean that you need to use harmful chemical-based products. Incorporating one or more of these simple remedies can help ensure that your breath stays fresh and clean-smelling all day long.