Health20 Jan 2010 11:28 am
Low-carbohydrate diets are dietary programs that sharply curtail carbohydrate consumption for the purpose of weight loss. These diets became extremely popular in the 1990s after the publication of Dr. Atkins’ best-selling book, “New Diet Revolution,” and at its peak in the early aughts a whopping 18% of the American population reported being on a low-carb diet.
However, most low-carb diets are ketogenic, meaning that they restrict carbohydrate consumption enough to cause the body to enter ketosis. Ketones are molecules generated when the body metabolizes fat for energy, and when people strictly restrict their carbohydrate intake their body produces more ketones in order to break down the increased proteins and fats in their diet (ostensibly leading to weight loss). Ketosis occurs when carbohydrate consumption is lowered to roughly 20 grams per day or less for an extended period of time.
However, while some studies demonstrate the effectiveness of low-carb diets in terms of weight loss, ketosis causes an embarrassing and seldom mentioned side effect-halitosis, a.k.a. bad breath. This is because acetone, a type of ketone molecule produced in excess during ketosis, cannot be utilized by the body for energy and is excreted as waste product in the urine and breath. The smell has been unappetizingly likened to nail polish and some people describe it as overpowering. Moreover, the process of ketosis acts as a diuretic, and the body uses up significantly more water than is typical, which can lead to dehydration and dry mouth. Dry mouth is a significant factor in the multiplication of oral bacteria, which also contributes to low-carb induced halitosis.
Dentists have made it clear that halitosis produced by ketosis is not an oral hygiene issue-you can do all of the brushing, mouthwash gurgling and flossing that you want, and you still will not be able to get rid of that low-carb induced reek. The only way to effectively get rid of ketosis breath is to reintroduce carbohydrates into your diet. Hmmmm…. on second thought, pass me one of those dinner rolls please….
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