Our body normally uses glucose or carbohydrates to meet its energy requirements. If a person follows a ketogenic (high fat, adequate protein, and low carbohydrate) diet, the body has to switch over to the stored body fat or dietary fat sources for obtaining energy. The process of fat metabolism involves the generation of energy in the form of ATP and ketones.
Ketones are water-soluble chemical compounds that are produced as a by-product of fat metabolism, and ketosis refers to a phase of metabolism where the body breaks down fat for energy, thereby causing elevated levels of ketones. One of the effects of the elevated levels of these compounds is bad breath or halitosis.
Why Does Ketosis Cause Halitosis?
Ketosis is basically a crisis reaction that takes place when the glycogen stores in the liver run out, as one follows a low carb diet for losing weight. Bad breath from ketosis is caused due to elevated levels of ketones in the bloodstream, which raises the pH of the blood. In an attempt to bring the pH level down, the body tries to get rid of ketone bodies through lungs and urine, and this causes unpleasant mouth odor. One may also experience symptoms such as headaches, abdominal pain, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, or a metallic taste in the mouth.
Remedies for Unpleasant Mouth Odor
Since many low carb diets are diuretic in nature, individuals following such diet plans might end up getting dehydrated. Dehydration could give rise to dry mouth, which in turn might cause bad breath. Under such circumstances, the dieters should increase their intake of water and fluids. Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily. Since excessive consumption of alcohol and tobacco can lead to dryness of mouth, these must be avoided.
If bad smelling breath has become a cause of serious concern for you, you can gradually increase the consumption of foods that contain carbohydrates. This might help in bringing the level of ketones down and help in lowering the pH levels of the blood. Also, it would be best to determine the halitosis is caused due to other problems such as dental decay, gum diseases, formation of plaque, tonsil stones, throat infections, diabetes mellitus, gastrointestinal problems, sinusitis, anemia, etc.
It's possible that a lack of dental care is responsible for causing bad breath. Therefore, you must take care of your dental health. Brush your teeth and floss regularly. Using a hydrogen peroxide mouthwash will also help. You can also try certain home remedies for treating halitosis. Chewing sugar-free gum, fresh parsley, or green cardamom seeds and drinking unsweetened green tea might also prove beneficial.
If you are following a low carb diet plan, you can also use ketosis strips to ascertain if the levels of ketone bodies are high. These strips are readily available in the market and can be used for testing the urine for ketone bodies. If the color of the strips changes to a dark purple, it is indicative of high levels of ketones. You can either include small amounts of carbohydrates to your diet or follow the aforementioned remedies to prevent halitosis.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.