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Possible cause: Gut dysbiosis

Most people try to combat bad breath by zealously brushing their teeth and gargling with mouthwash, but these tactics tend to mask an underlying problem. Chronic bad breath is often a sign of gut dysbiosis, a microbial imbalance in the digestive tract that is frequently the result of food intolerances. “This kind of bad breath doesn’t go away if you chew gum because it’s coming from an internal place — not something you just ate,” Fry says.

The mouth has a robust microbiome with a host of enzymes that aid digestion, adds Robynne Chutkan, MD, a gastroenterologist who practices functional medicine and is the author of the recent book The Microbiome Solution: A Radical New Way to Heal Your Body from the Inside Out. When people take too many antibiotics or consume too much sugar, it throws off the bacteria in the mouth, as well as the gut, leading to bad breath and cavities.

What you can do: The first step is to adopt a healthier diet that favors good digestion and gut function. (For more on addressing dysbiosis, go to “How to Heal a Leaky Gut”.)

If you have chronically bad breath, it’s wise to visit a functional-medicine practitioner who can get to the root of your condition, whether it’s dysbiosis or another internal issue, like sinusitis.

At the same time, show respect for your mouth’s ecosystem, says Chutkan. Stay away from antibacterial and alcohol-based mouthwashes that destroy your mouth’s good flora and can throw off your body’s overall microbial balance.

This was excerpted from “What Your Body Is Trying to Tell You, Part 2” which was published in Experience Life magazine.

Anjula Razdan

Anjula Razdan is Experience Life‘s digital director.

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