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29 March 2019

Your Stinky Breath is Connected to Your Health

Hey there Team!
It's the weekend in Europe where we change the clock for daylight summer time. Are you as excited about warmer weather and more sun as I am?! To a completely different subject: Last week the topic of bad breath came up in a conversation at work. It seems that most of us don't know all that much about it - other than that it stinks!

Let's take a closer look at what could be connected to bad breath, called halitosis in medicine. Commonly most people think that you cannot really do that much about bad breath, other than brush your teeth, and maybe use some kind of mouth wash. The bad breath must come from your mouth, right?

Halitosis is formed by volatile molecules which are caused because of pathological or nonpathological reasons, and it originates from an oral or a non-oral source.[1]

Well, lets take a step back. For instance, our breath can tell us about the alcohol level in our blood through an alcohol breathalyzer test. You can also check for SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) through a series of breathalyzer tests. These are things that we take for granted and know to be true. Well, if we measure alcohol levels and bad bacteria in the intestines from our breath, maybe there is more to bad breath than we thought.

Our mouth is the beginning of the tube that is our digestive system (esophagus, stomach, intestines, rectum) and our anal canal is at the very end of it. Just like stinky gas can come out at the end, it also can come out at the top.

If we think about the mouth as a large entrance hallway, what other rooms lead to that same hallway? Well, OK we just mentioned the esophagus of the digestive system. Then we have the sinuses. (Anyone who has ever had to do a saltwater rinse for a sinus infection knows that all that yucky stuff ends up in the mouth). And last but not least, your lungs, via the trachea, also leads to that same hallway.

That means, that if there is any kind of imbalance, infection, or bad  bacterial overgrowth in any one of these areas, it can lead to a stinky, bad breath. This is something that is  commonly known in Eastern Medicine[2], but not so often talked about in our Western type Medicine. So what can you do if you suffer from halitosis?

Of course you want to start with good mouth hygiene and proper dental check-ups. Making sure that you are well hydrated is often overlooked in this regard. A dehydrated body and mouth makes it easier for bad bacteria to move in and stay there. Cigarettes are not helping your breath in any way. "Get rid of the cancer sticks!" as my friend Suzanne says.

If your bad breath is something that is occurring often, or all the time, I would look into your food choices. Your best bet is to stay away from processed foods and eat a well prepared whole foods diet. We'll take a closer look at this next week.

For now try making a note of when you notice the bad breath coming back or being particularly bad.  Ask yourself what kind of foods and drinks that you had a day or two before that. It's sometimes very easy to notice a pattern occurring, if you just start to pay attention.

Currently there is also a lot of really cool research connecting different gases in our breath to serious health conditions. Check out this  interesting TED talk to learn more on this topic.


If top scientists are thinking about our breath and what it can tell us about our health, don't you think it would be a good idea to pay attention to yours, especially it it stinks?!

Wishing you all a great weekend with plenty of fresh breath!


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3633265/

Photo by Jules D. on Unsplash
Photo by Ryan Franco on Unsplash
[2] https://bodahealth.ca/bad-breath-and-chinese-medicine/
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Osteopathy, sports massage and functional nutrition in Haarlem. Taking care of zombies to olympians since 2007.

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