Yogurt and Your Breath
Remember that "sparkling drop of Retsyn" that Certs breath mints advertisements used to promise? After all these years, the question finally crossed my mind: What the heck is Retsyn? According to the web site for Cadbury Adams (the maker of Certs), Retsyn is "a combination of partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, copper gluconate and flavoring." Sharp-eyed readers will immediately focus on those two not-so-little words: partially hydrogenated. That means that Retsyn contains trans-fat, arguably the unhealthiest type of fat. (According to a National Academy of Sciences panel that examined the link between trans-fatty acid intake and heart disease risk, "The only safe intake of trans-fat is zero.") Of course, the amount of trans-fat contained in a Certs mint is just a sparkling drop in the bucket compared to the amount of trans-fats that the typical American diet is brimming with. Nevertheless, you might be interested in a unique alternative to breath mints - an alternative that may control bad breath by reducing harmful oral bacteria. At a recent session of the International Association for Dental Research, researchers from Japan's Tsurumi University presented the results of a study in which 24 subjects with halitosis ate sugar-free yogurt two times a day for six weeks. Samples collected from the tongue and saliva showed that about 80 percent of the subjects had lower levels of sulfide compounds that contribute to bad breath. More importantly, the lead author of the study, Dr. Kenichi Hojo, told Reuters Health that subjects in the study were found to have a significant reduction in plaque and gingivitis. (And as we saw in the alert "Heart Floss", the bacteria that causes gingivitis may also contribute to heart disease risk.) But here's an important note: Not just any yogurt will do. The yogurt used in the Tsurumi study was fermented with streptococci and lactobacilli. So before you put a yogurt product in your grocery cart, take a quick look at the ingredients panel to check for these lactic acid bacteria.