If you suffer from bad breath, eat these three foods

Science and Health

Bad breath is so embarrassing for those who suffer from it, but there are several solutions out there. One major factor is the food you eat. 

A new study found that eating yogurt and other fermented foods could banish bad breath. Researchers in China say that probiotic bacteria in yogurt, sourdough bread and miso soup could be the solution to this embarrassing problem.

Bad breath, or halitosis, affects about 25% of people and is the third most common reason for seeing a dentist, after tooth decay and gum disease. Besides the embarrassment, bad breath causes significant anxiety among those who suffer from it.

In the new study, scientists claim that compounds that come from oral bacteria result from mixing bacteria and food residues and are associated with poor dental hygiene. 

Typical options for fighting halitosis include mouth rinses, chewing gum, and even tongue cleaning. Yet researchers point out that there’s evidence that points to probiotic bacteria as a simpler alternative for treating bad breath.

Researchers in the new study reviewed databases of relevant clinical trials published up to February 2021. From the initial 238 records, the team focused on seven studies, which included a total of 278 people. The number of participants in each study was small, ranging from 23 to 68, with an age range of 19 to 70 years. The studies lasted between two and twelve weeks.

Could fermented food hold the cure to chronic bad breath? (credit: PEXELS)

The team defined the severity of bad breath by levels of volatile sulfur compounds detected in the mouth or by a score that measures breath odor at different distances from the mouth. The tongue coating scores (three studies) and the plaque index (three studies) were also included in the analysis because an unclean tongue and tartar build-up between the teeth are often the main causes of bad breath.

The data analysis

The data analysis, published in BMJ Open, proved that odor index scores decreased significantly among those taking probiotics compared to those in the control groups, regardless of the length of the monitoring period. 

Researchers observed a similar result for the levels of volatile sulfur compounds detected, although these varied “substantially” in individual studies. The observed effects were also relatively short, up to four weeks, after which there was no noticeable difference. 

Yet, there were no significant differences in tongue coating scores or plaque index between those who ate probiotics and those who didn’t.

The study authors believe that probiotics may inhibit the breakdown of amino acids and proteins by anaerobic bacteria in the mouth which stops the production of smelly byproducts. Yet researchers warn that these findings are from studies with a small sample size and some data is incomplete.

This systematic review and meta-analysis suggest that probiotics like Lactobacillus salivarius, Lactobacillus reuteri, Streptococcus salivarius and Weissella cibaria may relieve halitosis by reducing concentration levels of volatile sulfur compounds in short-term, yet there’s no significant effect on the main causes of halitosis, such as plaque and the need to clean off the tongue, researchers stated.

They concluded that more high-quality randomized clinical trials are needed in order to validate results and show that eating probiotics can effectively treat halitosis.