Just switched to a high fat, low-carb keto diet and worried about your keto breath? Relax, keto breath is normal, and temporary. Here’s what you need to know about changes to your breath during ketoacidosis and how to avoid keto breath on a low-carb diet.
What is Keto Breath?
“Keto breath is a term for the fruity, sweet breath odor of individuals who are in a state of ‘ketoacidosis’,” says Nutritional Counsellor, Consultant and Speaker Eve Persak.
“Ketoacidosis is the phenomenon that occurs when the body relies mostly or exclusively on fats for fuel (instead of carbs or proteins). This can occur for diabetics whose insulin levels aren’t sufficient. Or it can occur for individuals following a no/low-carb, low-protein regimen,” she says.
How Long Does Keto Breath Last?
While switching to a low-carb keto diet can cause breath concerns in some, it’s temporary as Keto Nutritionist Christine Cronau reveals. “Going keto can cause a temporary change in breath in some people (it doesn’t happen to everyone). It generally only lasts a few weeks and happens as the body starts to produce ketones,” she says.
“One of the ketone bodies produced is acetone, which is the culprit behind keto breath. As the body becomes more effective at using the ketones it produces, the excess ketones in the breath generally disappear.”
Keto Breath Shouldn’t Smell Nasty
Cronau believes that being on a keto diet shouldn’t spell bad breath, and if it does it could be a sign of other issues. “There are a lot of myths about keto and bad breath,” she says.
“Keto breath generally has a sweet or fruity smell. It shouldn’t be nasty! But, if there is already an underlying issue with bad breath (generally from an imbalance of gut bacteria), even if the issue wasn’t really noticeable prior, then keto breath can exacerbate that,” says Cronau.
“You should be able to kiss someone first thing in the morning without covering your mouth and racing to the bathroom to brush your teeth! If not, I recommend seeing a keto nutritionist for help with bacteria imbalance. It is generally very easy to fix and can be life changing!”
7 Tips for Avoiding Keto Breath on a Low-Carb Diet.
1. Keep Hydrated
“Firstly, stay hydrated, “ says Nutritional Counsellor, Consultant and Speaker Eve Persak. ”Oral bacteria flourish when the mouth gets dry. So just sipping on unsweetened beverages can be a huge help.”While a dry mouth may not seem like a big deal, Tabitha Acret, Clinical Educator and Dental Hygienist at AIRFLOW Dental Spa reveals that it can spell trouble for the health of your teeth and your breath. “Dry mouth can occur for several various reasons, one of the most popular being dehydration, but a consistent dry mouth should not be overlooked as it can lead to serious dental complications, “ said Acret.
2. Moderation is Key
“Low carb diets do not cause keto breath unless they are low enough in carbohydrates to initiate ketosis, which is why keto breath is associated with keto (very strict low carb) rather than low carb,” says Christine Cronau. Persak highlights the importance of moderation when embarking on a low-carb diet. “Emphasize moderation when setting macronutrient percentages — don’t drift too far in any extreme and respond with a more liberal program if you notice changes,” she says.
“It can be avoided by shifting the percentages of macronutrients slightly — allowing more proteins and carbohydrates — however in doing so, you may need to forfeit the strict almost no-carb ‘keto’ program in favor of a lower (but not too low) carb and modest protein diet.”
3. Up your Intake of Breath Friendly Low Sugar Fruits and Vegetables
Upping your intake of breath friendly low sugar fruits and vegetables can also help avoid keto breath. “Vegetables and fruits are also breath-friendly foods. Their fiber and water content helps to “brush” and “rinse” the mouth. They also feed the beneficial bacteria of the GI tract and promote regularity (which helps remove odorous waste) from the body,” says Persak.
“Vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, cucumber, summer squash, and sweet peppers and carrots are great. Low sugar fruits like citrus, berries, and tomato are also helpful.”
4. Include Probiotic-Rich Foods
Persak also suggest including probiotic-rich foods into your diet. “Probiotic-rich foods — like yogurts, miso, kimchi, etc. — also help contribute to a more balanced microbiome in the body — head (including the mouth) to toe,” she says.
5. Add some Anti-Microbial Herbs to Your Diet
Adding specific herbs to your diet can also help fight keto breath. “Some herbs possess anti-microbial properties — which then counter the odor-forming bacteria in the mouth. Mint and parsley are two that stand out. These also create a more alkaline environment in the mouth — and bacteria prefer and thrive in acidic environments, ” reveals Persak.
6. Practice Good Oral Hygiene
When it comes to fresh breath, good oral hygiene is key. “By not regularly brushing your teeth morning and night, bacteria start to build up, and left-over food from your previous meal can linger in the mouth. A key contributor to bad breath,” says Acret.
“Don’t just brush before a date, you need to consistently brush twice a day. If you aren’t doing so, and doing so properly, there can be further negative oral health outcomes.”“When food is left in and around teeth, plaque begins to form on the outer layer of the tooth and begins breaking down enamel. Tooth decay is painful and leads to more complex treatments, not just bad breath,” says Acret.
7. Boost Your Saliva Flow
Finally, boosting your saliva flow can improve the health of your teeth and help fight bad breath. According to Tabitha Acret “saliva acts as a coat of amour for our teeth, it is the buffer to protect them from the sugars and acids we consume throughout the day.”
“If you have a low saliva flow then you have less buffer and therefore increased risk of decay, and higher chances of developing bad breath. When you see your dentist or hygienist they can talk to you about products that help elevate your dry mouth and also help to reduce the risk of decay in your teeth,” she adds.
According to Relationship and Body Language Expert Katia Loisel from streaming service Love Destination, one way to increase your saliva flow naturally is to pucker up and kiss. “Kissing is the ultimate relationship and feel good boost, shown to boost relationship satisfaction, connection and even attraction. But the good news doesn’t stop there,” Loisel says.
“Kissing is also good for the overall health of your teeth, increasing levels of saliva helping to prevent tooth decay and cavities.”
8. If Concerned Freshen your Breath with a Sugar Free Breath Freshener
If you’re concerned about the smell of your keto breath, keep your breath minty fresh with a sugar free breath freshener until your body adjusts to the low carb diet.
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