Why do I have bad breath?

What is bad breath?

Bad breath can come in many forms, levels of severity and can even be triggered by many a wide range of factors.

Simply speaking, it is an unpleasant odour eminating from the breath of a person. Chronic bad breath is referred to as halitosis. Less commonly, it is also called fetor oris, ozostomia or stomatodysodia.

What causes bad breath?

Often identifying the cause of bad breath is the first step towards treating this entirely preventable condition. As mentioned above, it can be caused by a wide variety of things. For example, smoking, dry mouth, a medical condition (such as diabetes) or diet (for example, a diet high in protein or other acid-forming foods, eating garlic and onions or drinking too much coffee or alcohol).

The most common causes of bad breath are preventable and easily treated. However, in some cases, chronic halitosis may indicate an underlying problem in the stomach or digestive system. It is this potential cause that will be considered below.

The digestive system

The digestive tract extends all the way from the mouth right through to the anus. It therefore makes sense that any problems in the digestive tract (such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, for example – see below), can result in bad breath. As such, it is possible for anyone to suffer from halitosis (including both vegetarians and those who eat meat).

Stomach, intestinal and bowel problems may all be a contributing factor to bad breath. Digestion begins in the mouth. Saliva has digestive enzymes which begin the digestion process, and the type of food eaten can affect the food chemistry of the mouth. Saliva will also pick up odours from food within several hours after it has been eaten. Odours are strongest from carbohydrates (sugars, starches and cellulose), less strong from proteins and non-existent from fats. Bacteria in the mouth react with the decaying food and drink residue and can be the source of foul odour.

Digestive enzymes and nutrition

Digestive enzymes become more important as we get older, because their production by the body decreases as we age. A high level of the naturally-occurring digestive enzymes in foods is also destroyed when they are cooked.

If our bodies are enzyme deficient, they must divert nutrients to manufacture those digestive enzymes, which would otherwise be used to make intracellular enzymes such as catylase and SOD, which protect cells as antioxidants. Lower levels of digestive enzymes can also potentially lead to excess gas formation and putrefaction in the intestines. For some, this can contribute to bad breath gases travelling through the bloodstream and to the lungs, where they are exhaled.

Dairy allergy, lactose intolerance and gluten sensitivity

A dairy allergy or lactose intolerance could also be the cause of bad breath. If you think that this could be the case, you could try eliminating all dairy products from the diet temporarily to see if they are the culprit.

Even if you do not suffer from a dairy allergy or intolerance, some people find that the elimination of dairy products can nonetheless help with the control of bad breath odours. This is because dairy products can thicken mucous in the mouth and contribute to the anaerobic environment bacteria thrive in, leading to the production of volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs). It also supplies lots of protein used in the breakdown by bacteria to form VSCs.

For those individuals who are intolerant to gluten (a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related cereals) and are also suffering from halitosis, it is important to ensure that you are drinking a great deal of water to wash away thick mucous and bacteria and to keep the mouth flowing freely with saliva. This decreases mouth pH and increases oxygen, both of which help control halitosis.

Candida albicans

Candida is an overgrowth of yeast (referred to as candidiasis), which usually starts in the gastrointestinal tract and then gradually spreads to other parts of the body. It is a resilient and invasive parasite, which usually attaches itself to the intestinal wall and can (if left untreated) become a permanent resident of the internal organs. One of the known symptoms of candida is bad breath. This is because an abnormally high level of fungal organisms in the intestines may result in increased fermentation of the carbohydrates you eat. This produces a variety of toxins and gases.  

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder, which results in unusual sensitivity and muscle activity. It is sometimes referred to as spastic colon, spastic colitis, mucous colitis or nervous stomach and is a functional disorder, where the function of the bowels may be abnormal, but no structural abnormalities exist.

It is widely accepted amongst naturopathic practitioners and other complimentary and alternative health therapists that bad breath can be a sign of long-term problems in the colon. They believe the health of the gastrointestinal system is integral to overall well-being, and support for IBS (and bad breath symptoms) often involves seeking to restore gut health (including a healthy balance of bacteria).

Dysbiosis

In adults, bad breath is often one of the first signs that normal bacteria levels in the gut are imbalanced. Dysbiosis (also sometimes called dysbacteriosis) refers to a microbial imbalance on or within the body; in other words, an imbalance of “good” versus “bad” bacteria. When levels of friendly bacteria in the digestive system are low, partially digested food decays, producing foul gas and toxemia.

Certain health foods, organic products and food-based supplements (such as herbal colon cleansers, high-strength multi-strain probiotics, digestive aids and cleanse and detox supplements) can offer support in resolving bad breath, particularly where this is linked to digestive health.

For more information, visit our main website

Enzymes for digestion

The process of digestion

Digestion is a vital process in the body, during which food that is eaten is broken down into a simple form that can be absorbed by the body.

The mouth, oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum and anus are the organs that make up our digestive system.

The process of digestion starts in the mouth with the chewing of food, continues in the stomach and small intestine where the food is broken down by the digestive juices and enzymes and finally gets completed in the large intestine. The  digestive tract comprises these digestive organs that take in food, digest it to extract essential nutrients and energy and finally expel the remaining waste.

What are digestive enzymes?

Digestive enzymes are complex proteins that stimulate chemical changes in other substances. They are secreted by different glands in the body, including the salivary glands, the stomach and pancreas glands and the glands in the small intestines.

These enzymes also have specific sites of action, including the oral cavity, the stomach, the duodenum and the jejunum. They work optimally at a specific temperature and pH in the body.

They are used by the body to break food down into nutrients, which are then digested. The human body produces around 22 different digestive enzymes, each of which acts on a different type of food. Fruit, vegetables, meat and other natural foods also often contain enzymes that assist in their own digestion.

Without digestive enzymes, we could not exist. Our body’s reactions would be too slow for life to be possible, because they are involved in almost every biological process.

How do digestive enzymes work?

The human body makes more than 3,000 kinds of enzymes, all of which speed up chemical reactions and save energy. Digestive enzymes, which are only a few of the thousands of known enzymes, break down the foods we eat into basic building blocks that our body can then absorb and reassemble to build cells, tissues, organs, glands and body systems.

These enzymes are produced by the body to help break down food into nutrients and waste. The nutrient molecules must be digested into molecules that are small enough to be absorbed through the lining of the small intestines. When we don’t produce enough digestive enzymes to complete this process efficiently – wind, bloating and more serious digestive and other health issues may occur.

As mentioned above, digestive enzymes come from 2 sources: internal and external. Internally, the digestive system secretes the enzymes found in saliva, the stomach, pancreas and intestines. Externally, raw food is the primary source.

Food digestive enzymes are found in raw foods. Unprocessed whole foods contain most of the enzymes needed for digesting that particular food. This is one reason why it’s important to include many raw foods in our diets. It relieves the stress on the body, having to produce all the digestive system enzymes needed for continuous food digestion (particularly where the food items are hard to process, such as foods high in saturated fat, dairy, red meat etc). Chewing raw food releases these enzymes and digestion begins. Our own enzymes assist in this process.

What are some of the benefits of digestive enzymes?

Caffeine, alcohol, illness, pregnancy, stress, severe weather and exercise all take their toll on our enzyme reserves. Our bodies also produce less as we age. But the main reason we don’t digest food well, is poor diet.

Our diets don’t contain as much raw food as they once did, and modern food processing techniques and cooking destroy nearly 100% of the enzymes naturally present in food. Even raw food doesn’t contain as many enzymes as it once did due to environmental factors, depleted soil, and preservation techniques.

The body tries to compensate by producing more internal digestive enzymes to make up for the lack of external plant enzymes. Enzyme-deficient food puts a burden on the digestive system that it isn’t always able to handle. Incomplete digestion can lead to poor nutrient absorption, fatigue, digestive upset, food allergies and other health conditions and digestive complaints. Partially digested food particles escaping from the gut can cause an immune response (such as Leaky Gut Syndrome), affecting the immune system. The body may also “steal” enzymes from the immune system, compromising it even further.

As a result, many health conscious individuals choose to support their daily diet and digestion with plant-derived digestive enzyme supplements.

For more information, visit our main website

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