Foods That Might Be Causing Bad Breath

Many of us love some spice in our meals. Spicy food, curry, spices, hot sauce and other hot food can really add some pizazz to a meal (and your taste buds), but afterwards you may end up with a case of halitosis, heartburn and indigestion. Does that mean lay off the spicy foods all together? No! In fact, according to a recent article, there are dozens of spicy food challenges all over the United States.

This year at the Fiery Food Challenge Awards in Irving, Texas, a Tampa native took first place for her chipotle sauce (reports Tampa Bay Online). Her other entries that were awarded prizes include her Chai Chipotle Cocktail, Chai Chipotle Chup, Chai Curry Chup and Garlic Goodness hot sauce. How do spicy foods lead to bad breath? The immediate effect is that they leave a film of spices on the tongue whose odors are exhaled with every breath. An after-effect could be caused by capsaicin in peppers. Capsaicin is the chemical compound that gives spicy food its "hot" taste and feel.

The Frostburg State University's chemistry department suggests drinking milk to lessen the sensation. A study in the journal Physiology and Behavior suggests a chilled sugar solution to quench burning from spicy food. However, both milk and a sugar solution can feed oral bacteria that cause bad breath. So while the heat may be gone from your mouth, the bad breath might still remain if you don't use a specialty breath freshener and brush at least twice a day.

While we're on the subject of spicy foods, Indian curry is a tasty meal that is widely accepted to cause after-meal bad breath due to its spices. However, this was not always the case. According to an article, in a 1994 issue of the British Medical Journal, researchers from the MGM Medical College in Mumbai, India released an editorial that suggested curry spices may decrease oral odor. This conclusion was based on the fact that many of the essential oils found in American mouthwashes are also present in curry leaves.

They went on to note that 2.6 percent of curry leaves have oils that have antimicrobial and antifungal properties. They had male volunteers chew leaves and it seemed to lower bad breath. However, in 2004 a study was released in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology that found essentials oil do very little to reduce the amount of sulfur-producing compounds found in the oral cavity that lead to bad breath. Rather than chewing on a curry leaf, it is suggested to stick to more traditional oral care products to truly combat bad breath.

Garlic leaves a very pungent taste and smell in one's mouth when it's consumed, even in small portions. However, it is delicious and there are many garlic lovers out there. Many of whom will most likely be attending the 12th Annual South Cariboo Garlic Festival. Each year, this garlic-packed event takes placed in northern Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada.

The Festival boasts tons of events including garlic peeling contests, garlic eating contests and tons of garlicky popcorn, foods and beverages for sale. There's even an award for the most garlicky vendor's booth. No doubt, hundreds of Canadians will attend. When consumed, garlic leaves a compound called allyl methyl sulfide in the mouth. This compound is responsible for the funky, strong smell that lingers on the tongue and breath after eating garlic. According to the Archives of Dermatological Research, some people are allergic to allyl methyl sulfide and contact with it can result in difficulty breathing, hives and dermatitis. While garlic is definitely something to be savored and enjoyed (unless of course you are allergic), there are ways to eliminate stench that results in consumption.

New research suggests that drinking milk with a meal that contains garlic may help fight bad breath by reducing the amount of volatile sulfur compounds that remain in your stomach and mouth. These new findings were published in the Journal of Food Science and confirm an earlier theory that milk can lessen the effect of garlic causing a strong, unpleasant oral odor.

Garlic contains many odorous compounds including diallyl disulfide, allyl methyl disulfide, allyl mercaptan and allyl methyl sulfide. These compounds tend to linger in the stomach when consumed. The research team used ion low tube-mass spectrometry that separates gases into their respective molecules. The team concluded that drinking whole or 2 percent milk when eating garlic recued the sulfuric (stinky) traces of garlic breath by 95 percent within an hour.

The study did have its limitations -- the milk and garlic had to be consumed at the same time to eliminate bad breath. Also, the sulfuric compounds weren't completely eliminated; they were still present even after drinking milk. So is milk the solution? Maybe not. Rather than risk bad breath from both milk and garlic, perhaps stick to rinsing your mouth out with mouthwash or eating a mint after a garlic-filled meal.

Onions are known to be both delicious and pungent. One article dates the use of onions in meals all the way back to the Stone Age! Onions are a great source of vitamins and nutrients along with being delicious.

The earliest known use of onions dates back 5,500 years ago. The Onion may have originated in Asia, and has become such a part of everyday diet and cooking because it wouldn't spoil in the winter, when freezing and unthawing food still wasn't an option. However, onions are also well known to cause some major halitosis. Maarse's Volatile Compounds in Foods and Beverages states that onions are packed with hundreds of volatile chemicals that contain sulfur. One of the primary odor compounds in onions is a molecule that gives rotten eggs their funky smell. Aside from being stinky, onions also contain the lachrymatory factor -- a substance that causes eye irritation and tear production (anyone that has ever chopped a raw onion knows this).

Spicy food does more than wake up our taste buds, they can also make us cry and cause bad breath. Does this mean we should all forget the onions, garlic and spice and stick to a more bland diet? Of course not! Just be sure to maintain a healthy oral care routine and find products that will help you fight bad breath whenever you want to dive into a zesty meal and not suffer the dragon breath afterwards.