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Bad breath? Mouthwash is out. Yogurt is in.


Leave the mouthwash. Take the yogurt

Most of us have experienced some sort of bad breath. It’s common in the morning right after waking up, but it also may be a sign for underlying medical issues like dental problems or acid reflux. Wherever it comes from, we always want to get rid of it. A recent meta-analysis in BMJ Open may have found the answer in some common foods.

Variety of probiotic fermented foods Mladenovic/iStock/Getty Images

For those with halitosis, the basic problem is that the bacteria in their mouths are not happy about where they are. The researchers looked at 130 studies and found seven that suggested fermented food has some effect in combating bad breath.

Now when we say fermented food, we’re not talking about that science project waiting to happen in the back of the refrigerator. Think yogurt, sourdough bread, or miso soup. Anything that contains probiotic bacteria.

Matthew J. Messina, DDS, assistant professor of dentistry at Ohio State University, who was not involved with the study, told Healthline that “the whole idea behind probiotics is [bacteria replacement]. Supplant the ‘bad guys’ with the ‘good guys,’ then we’ll end up with a better result.” Essentially balancing the scales in your mouth.

It may not be a long-term solution, Dr. Messina said, but the short-term data are positive. So if you experience bad breath from time to time, try a little bowl of yogurt instead of chewing gum. If nothing else, the bacteria in your mouth will thank you.

You can talk the silly talk, but can you walk the silly walk?

The Ministry of Silly Walks sketch from Monty Python is an enduring comedy classic, and one of surprising relevance for doctors. After all, this isn’t the first time a study has analyzed the unusual strides of Mr. Putey and Mr. Teabag.

The BMJ Christmas edition truly is the gift that keeps on giving. For this plunge into the Flying Circus, the study authors recruited a small group of fairly average adults and had them walk normally around a track for 5 minutes, monitoring their oxygen intake and energy expenditure. After that, the study participants imitated Mr. Putey’s walk and then Mr. Teabag’s.

Michael Blann/DigitalVision

In the sketch, Mr. Teabag notes that Mr. Putey’s walk is “not particularly silly,” which is borne out in the research. When imitating Mr. Putey’s walk, oxygen intake and energy expenditure were barely higher than a normal walk, not enough to achieve a meaningful difference. Hopefully he’ll get that government grant to further develop his silly walk, because right now Mr. Putey’s walk simply doesn’t cut it.

Mr. Teabag’s walk is a different story and the very image of inefficiency. Oxygen intake was 2.5 times higher than during the normal walk, and energy expenditure was noticeably higher (8 kcal in men and 5.2 kcal in women). In fact, the walk was so inefficient and its effect so drastic it actually reached the level of vigorous exercise. Thanks to this, the study authors noted that just 11 minutes a day of walking like Mr. Teabag would be enough to reach the general goal of 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. Boosting that to 12-19 minutes would increase daily energy expenditure by 100 kcal.

The study authors wrote, “Had an initiative to promote inefficient movement been adopted in the early 1970s, we might now be living among a healthier society. Efforts to promote higher energy – and perhaps more joyful – walking should ensure inclusivity and inefficiency for all.” We think they just advocated for a real-life Ministry of Silly Walks. Well, there have been worse ideas. Just look at Twitter.


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