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Cheryl Forberg, RD

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The 10 Health Problems You Were Too Embarrassed To Ask About (and The Solutions) -- Part Two

Posted: 09/28/11 09:34 AM ET

Last week, I discussed a few embarrassing health topics such as diarrhea, constipation and gas. Let's face it, we've all been there at least once. After working with the "Biggest Loser" for 12 seasons, I sometimes doubt there's an embarrassing question I haven't been asked! Here are five more:

Holy Halitosis!
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You don't want to be a "close talker" if you're worried about this: bad breath.
Did you know that bad breath is the third most frequent reason that people visit their dentist? (The first two reasons are cavities and gum disease.)

You may not know you have bad breath until someone comments on your breath or offers you mints or gum. A bad taste in your mouth is a good sign that your breath may not be pleasant.

Causes:
-Bacteria on the tongue that produce smelly compounds and fatty acids that stink.
-Bacteria in the mouth that are responsible for breaking down proteins into individual amino acids, and then the further breakdown of some amino acids into smelly gasses such as hydrogen sulfide.
-Gum disease
-Nose odor ... yup, even the breath that you exhale through your nose can have a smell, especially if you have a cold or sinus infection.
-Certain foods that you've eaten may be the culprit. Garlic and onions can lead to bad breath.
-Ketosis: During prolonged fasting or severe dieting, and even following a low carbohydrate diet, our bodies use an alternate method of getting calories from stored fatty acids in the liver. This produces ketones as a byproduct and we exhale these ketoacids, which have an unpleasant sweet smell. (We also expel them in the urine.)
-Lung infections
-Poor oral hygiene
-Smoking

Prevention and treatment:
Use a toothpaste or mouthwash that contains zinc compounds or stabilized chlorine dioxide. These compounds can actually help break down the sulfur chemicals in your mouth that cause bad breath.

Remember to brush your teeth and tongue regularly (at least twice a day, but ideally after each meal).

Visit your dentist on a regular basis. A dentist will be able to tell you if there are any problems with your oral health that may be contributing to bad breath.
Avoid eating onions and/or garlic if the result of bad breath bothers you.

There have been some contradictory and preliminary studies suggesting that some nutritional supplements may be helpful: If you have gum disease, Coenzyme Q10 or folic acid supplements may help. Also a mouthwash or toothpaste containing zinc chloride may improve things.
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Cheryl Forberg RD is a James Beard award-winning chef, Nutritionist for NBC's "The Biggest Loser" and New York Times bestselling author. Her latest book is "Flavor First" (Rodale). She lives on a farm in Napa, California. For more nutrition and cooking tips, visit Cheryl's website.

 
 
 

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