A study led by Professor Thomas Hofmann has found that the pungent substance found in ginger - otherwise known as 6-gingerol - reduces bad breath by stimulating an enzyme in saliva which breaks down the substances that give breath a foul smell. 6-gingerol increases the production of another enzyme - sulfhydryl oxidase 1 - in saliva by 16-fold and this happens in only a few seconds, according to the results of the study.
The study was conducted on volunteers. During the analysis, they found that the enzyme in saliva breaks down the foul-smelling sulfuric compounds which are also present in saliva. By breaking down the compounds, it reduces the aftertaste of some foods which tends to linger in saliva for too long. One example is coffee. The result is better smelling breath and not the foul smell of the sulphur-containing compounds.
How Food Ingredients Affect Taste Perception
The study further explained how citric acid could reduce the saltiness in food. The study states that citric acid stimulates saliva which increases the sodium ion level found by about a factor of 11. This stimulation is what reduces the sensitivity in table salt. “Table salt is nothing other than sodium chloride - sodium ions play a key role in the taste of salt,” Hoffman said. “If saliva already contains a higher concentration of sodium ions, the sample tasted must have a significantly higher salt content to taste comparatively salty.”
More research needs to be carried out to determine the relationship between the molecules in food which naturally create the taste, the biological process in the saliva and lastly, our sense of taste.
Foods That Fight Bad Breath
Aside from ginger, other foods help to neutralize bad breath and give you the fresh breath you so much crave. Here are some of them:
Strawberries contain high water content which helps in preventing dry mouth – which creates an unfavorable environment for bacteria that leads to bad breath. They also contain vitamin C which, help heal gum inflammation, gingivitis and other dental problems.
Melons also contain vitamin C and high water content which help to keep the mouth hydrated and reduce bacteria that releases a foul smell.
Yogurt helps heal your gut from where most of the mouth odors emanate. It contains active live cultures that reduce the related sulfur compounds that encourage bad breath and also helps improve the functions of the digestive tract.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Vegetables like spinach, lettuce, and kale also help your oral health. They prevent dry mouth by reducing the levels of alkaline in your saliva while balancing the pH levels. They also contain chlorophyll which neutralizes bad odors.
Indians swear by fennel seeds to help in the elimination of bad breath. When eating the seed, you generate saliva which helps in cleaning the mouth. The oil also contains potent antibacterial properties that keep your breath fresh.
About The Author
Lisa S. Jones is a certified nurse, nutritionist, fitness coach and health expert. Her training credentials include a B.Sc. in Nursing from California State University in 2013 and Youth Nutrition Specialist Certification from the American Fitness Professionals and Associates in 2015. In 2017, she also received Holistic Nutrition Certification from the American Fitness Professionals and Associates.