Due to added sugar, artificial sweeteners, or sugar alcohols like xylitol, gum and mints are out for your Whole30—but that doesn’t mean you have to arrive at your after-lunch meeting with the scent of beef stew on your breath. We asked the Whole30 community and Whole30’s own Melissa Urban to share their favorite compatible breath-freshening strategies, and they did not let us down.
Our nine favorite strategies are below, ranging from common sense (carry a toothbrush, people) to Whole30-compatible products we love. So don’t be afraid to get up close and personal with your gym buddy, airplane seat-mate, or even on a first date; we’ve got you covered.
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Big Picture: Eating Healthy for Improved Oral Health
Achieving naturally-fresh breath on your Whole30 may be easier than you think. Dentists say a whole foods-based diet emphasizing fresh produce could reduce bacterial populations in the mouth that lead to bad breath, and the fiber acts like nature’s toothbrush, helping you dislodge food particles as you chew. If you tolerate raw vegetables well, include some carrots, bell peppers, celery, and other crunchy stuff.
The impact of eating a Whole30-inspired diet on your breath may not be as noticeable in your first few weeks of Whole30, but certainly could be another awesome Non-Scale Victory to add to your list by the end of the program.
1, 2, and 3: The Basics
Brush Your Teeth. This is probably the most obvious piece of advice, but surprisingly one of the most overlooked. Create a carry-along “dental pack” including a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss. After a meal, simply head to the bathroom and cruise through the motions just like you would at home. Make sure not to leave your tongue out of your routine; brushing your tongue well will help to remove as much odor-causing bacteria as possible.
Bonus Tip: While this may not be convenient for the office, using a water flosser is an excellent supplementary dental tool for home. A water flosser will help clean the hard-to-reach areas between the teeth and gums, removing any excess food and bacteria.
Stay Hydrated. Dehydration is actually one of the leading causes of bad breath, as bacteria thrives in this dryer environment. Saliva is your body’s natural remedy to bad breath, so drink up! For Whole30 beverage ideas, see this article.
Mint, Black, or Green Tea. A cup of hot tea after a meal refreshes your mouth, helps to remove food particles, and contains polyphenols that can help destroy the growth of bacteria that cause bad breath. Toss a few bags of your favorite tea into a zip-top baggie and keep them in your purse or work bag.
4, 5, and 6: Chew On This
Parsley or Mint Leaves.These beautiful herbs are much more than pretty garnishes! Both mint and parsley contain chlorophyll, which is believed to have antibacterial properties that naturally deodorize. The act of chewing the herbs also stimulates saliva, scrapes away bacteria, and leave a clean mouth-feel behind.
Cloves. This tiny spice is known for its antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiseptic qualities. To get the most out of this method, squeeze the clove gently between your teeth to release its natural oils. It tastes excellent and will definitely freshen up your mouth, but be warned, cloves may cause a slight numbness because of their eugenol, a natural anesthetic.
Fennel Seeds. Chew on these naturally-antibacterial seeds to freshen breath and help increase saliva production – a very helpful factor in better breath. Store the seeds in a small container to keep in your bag or purse for a post-meal mint substitute.
7, 8, and 9: Extra Credit
Brush and Rinse. Whole30’s own Melissa Urban shared her two favorite Whole30-compatible products, found at most health food stores (like Whole Foods or Sprouts), or available online. The first is Wow Peppermint Oil Drops, made from peppermint leaves. Place 1-2 drops on the back of your hand, lick, and follow up with a sip of water. Don’t overdo it here; these drops are strong. She also loves Essential Oxygen Brushing Rinse, which works both on your toothbrush and as a between-brushing mouth rinse, and comes in a convenient travel size for your purse or gym bag.
Coconut Oil Pulling.Oil pulling is technique that has been used for thousands of years. Originating in India as an Ayurvedic practice for “purifying” the body, the “pulling” itself refers to the oil pulling bacteria out of the gums and from the top film of the teeth. Coconut oil is naturally antibacterial and when it binds to the plaque on the teeth, it naturally reduces the bacterial populations in the mouth. Try an all-in-one oil + peppermint kit from GuruNanda.
Flavored Toothpicks. Using flavored toothpicks, especially the cinnamon or mint varieties, is a great after-meal habit to help freshen breath and keep tooth decay at bay.
See Your Dentist
Finally, if you’ve tried every remedy in the book but still battle with chronic bad breath, make an appointment with your dentist. There may be something bigger going on under the surface, from dental issues to underlying medical conditions, so ask your dentist to help you pinpoint your specific issue.