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Your Super-Healthy Diet Is Making Your Breath Stink

When carb intake drops below 30 grams per day, the body gets rid of organic compounds, known as ketones, through the mouth, a process which can smell pretty gnar to those around you.

by Nick Rose
20 July 2016, 9:00am

So you've managed to start eating well and drop some pounds. You're eating more proteins and fats, and most importantly, dodging evil carbs; your body is going into fat-burning overdrive and you're actually getting results. Yay, you!

But you've soon got another problem to deal with: the foul smell emanating from your mouth. According to Dr. Wayne Aldredge, President of the American Academy of Periodontology, cutting down on carbs in order to burn dietary protein and fat can give dieters a serious case of bad breath.

READ MORE: Our Protein Obsession Is Getting Out of Control

Speaking to Thrillist, Aldredge explained how following an Atkins-like ketogenic diet can lead to metabolic state called ketosis. When carb intake drops below 30 grams per day, this process leads to the body getting rid of organic compounds, known as ketones, through the mouth, a smell often described as "rotten fruit, or even metallic." Gross.

The reason for this, according to Aldredge, is the delicate balance of bacteria living in our mouths, a balance which is significantly impacted by the sudden absence of carbs. "Foods high in sugar and carbohydrates can create acidic environments in the mouth," Dr. Aldredge told Thrillist. "The bacteria that can lead to periodontal disease thrive in these kinds of environments, feeding off of the sugar that lingers from the food we eat."

In other words, a low-sugar diet can actually be good for your oral health because there is less bacteria in the mouth. However, when it comes to smells and ketones, the mouth is not the problem. Because ketosis is coming from deep within—not the mouth—mouthwash and mints are not likely to help much. Any pro tips from Dr. Aldredge? He urges those not consuming carbs to drink lots of water, chew on fresh mint leaves, fennel seeds, and use sugar-free gums.

Or, you could just stop caring about what other people think about your bad breath and eat food that makes you feel good.