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Q&A: Do low-carb diets cause bad breath?

Consumer Reports News: February 19, 2010 06:08 AM

Do low-carb diets cause bad breath? —A.D., Eastchester, N.Y.

They can, though bacteria in the mouth are a far more common cause. Restricting carbohydrates to fewer than 60 grams per day, as some low-carb regimens recommend, causes the body to dip into its stores of fat for energy. That process creates chemical byproducts called ketones; one of those, acetone, has a distinct fruity smell that sometimes becomes detectable on the breath. If you suspect that’s the culprit, try increasing your carb intake a bit.

You could also try standard breath-improving measures such as chewing sugarless cinnamon gum, using a tongue cleaner to gently scrape away bacteria, and avoiding strong-smelling foods like garlic and onions.

Read more on all the causes of bad breath  and then find out which treatment works best  (subscribers only).

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