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     Volume 4 Issue 40 | April 1, 2005 |

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Fight Bated Breath

Sugarless yoghurt could help beat bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease, say scientists.

Japanese researchers found eating the yoghurt-reduced levels of hydrogen sulphide - a major cause of bad breath - in 80% of volunteers.

The key are active bacteria in yogurt, specifically Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.

Details were presented at a meeting of the International Association for Dental Research.

A total of 24 volunteers who took part in the study were given strict instructions on oral hygiene, diet and medication intake.

They spent two weeks avoiding yoghurts and similar foods, like cheese.

Researchers then took saliva and tongue coating samples to measure bacteria levels and odour-causing compounds, including hydrogen sulphide.

The volunteers then ate 90 grams of yoghurt a day for six weeks.

At the end of the study, researchers took samples again. They found hydrogen sulphide levels decreased in 80% of participants.

Levels of plaque and the gum disease gingivitis were also significantly lower among yoghurt eaters.

Added bonus
Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said: "The foundation has long been drawing people's attention to sugar-free yoghurts as a healthy snack, so it is pleasing to hear that it may have oral health benefits we were previously unaware of.

"Frequent consumption of sugary snacks is the principal cause of tooth decay, which can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort.

"Although this research is still in the early stages there is no doubt that sugar-free yoghurts provide a much healthier alternative to sweets and chocolate, and we would encourage snackers to incorporate them into their diet."

One in four people suffer from bad breath regularly, while 19 in 20 are affected by gum disease at some point in their lives.

However, Dr Carter stressed that the best way to beat bad breath was by adopting a good oral health routine.

This involves brushing twice-a-day with fluoride toothpaste, cutting down on the frequency of sugary snacks and drinks, flossing daily and visiting a dentist regularly.

'Bad breath' clue to lung disease
People with lung diseases have bad breath, according to scientists in the United States. Researchers at the University of Virginia say people with conditions like asthma and cystic fibrosis have highly acidic breath.

What's more, the acidity of their breath rises depending on how severe their condition is.

Writing in the European Respiratory Journal, they said a simple breath test could help doctors spot these diseases.

Lung acids
They said doctors should be able to distinguish between healthy patients and those with lung diseases quite easily.

This is because healthy people have breath which is slightly alkaline.

The researchers said the acidic breath associated with people with lung diseases may be caused by the
overproduction of acids in the lung.

They believe this overproduction may even cause some of the symptoms associated with these diseases.

Dr John Hunt and colleagues said breath tests were a simple and reliable way of detecting lung diseases.

They asked 100 healthy patients to breathe into a disposable breathalyser.

The patients provided four samples a day for seven consecutive days.

This meant the researchers could measure the pH levels or acidity of over 900 breath samples.

They found that their pH levels remained relatively stable and slightly alkaline.

This is in contrast to people with lung diseases whose readings fluctuate but remain acidic.

The researchers found that the breath test was more reliable than alternative approaches, such as taking saliva samples from patients' mouths.

They also found that breath tests were as accurate as taking samples from the back of patients' throats.

Writing in the European Respiratory Journal, they said the procedure was "extremely simple to perform, inexpensive and robust".

In addition, they have shown that pH levels rise if patients receive proper treatment.

A simple test which reliably measures pH levels could transform the way these patients are diagnosed and monitored.

At the moment, UK doctors use spirometers to diagnose lung diseases. These machines measure the capacity and efficiency of the lungs by getting patients to exhale into them.

However, a recent study found that just 60% of NHS GPs have access to this equipment.

Source: BBC Health

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