Poor oral hygiene is one of the major causes of bad breath or halitosis. However, if your breath stinks of ketones or ammonia, one of the most possible explanations is a low-carbohydrate diet. Of course, there are other possible reasons as to why you have what’s known as keto breath. Here are all the things you have to know about this particular type of bad breath.
Low-Carb Diets and Ketosis
One of the main reasons why people develop ketone-like breath is a low-carbohydrate diet. The human body needs carbohydrates in the form of glucose to provide energy to all the cells.
If you do not eat enough carbohydrates, your body will try to compensate. It will search for other sources of energy. The next best energy source is fat. A single molecule of fat can deliver more than twice the amount of energy that a molecule of glucose can provide.
The body will not wait for you to eat a high-fat diet. Instead, it will mobilize the fat molecules from their storage sites. It breaks these fatty acids down so that the body can use them for energy. One of the byproducts of such a process is ketone. There are three types of ketone bodies that the human body can form. These are acetone, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and acetoacetate.
In normal individuals, these ketone bodies are removed from the body through the urine and during exhalation. In people who adhere to a low-carbohydrate diet, the smell of acetone in the breath becomes more pronounced. This is because of the higher concentration of ketone bodies produced from the excessive breakdown of fatty acids. This produces what we call keto breath.
Increased Protein Breakdown
The body does not only rely on stored fat molecules to supply the energy from the missing or low carbohydrate levels. It also breaks down protein to help supplement the energy produced during ketosis – the breakdown of fatty acids.
Unfortunately, the process of breaking down proteins can result in the production of ammonia. This is a natural byproduct of protein metabolism.
Many people who adhere to a low-carb diet will often compensate by increasing their intake of proteins. Sadly, this can further increase the amount of ammonia byproducts. Excessive levels of ammonia in the blood can also manifest as keto breath, among other signs and symptoms.
The Impact of Dehydration
It is important to understand that the human body has a built-in mechanism to get rid of ammonia in a more natural way. It excretes excess ammonia through the urine. For it to be successful in this function, the kidneys must be able to produce large volumes of urine in order to flush out the ammonia.
If there is dehydration or the hydration status of the person is not adequate, then the kidneys will not be able to remove the excess ammonia. These compounds can remain in the system and continue to produce keto breath.
Different Odors of Keto Breath
There are three fundamental byproducts of fat metabolism and one for protein metabolism. Using this knowledge, it is quite easy to identify which of these byproducts are present in the breath.
If the breath smells fruity and sweet, then you have beta-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate byproducts in your breath. Some individuals describe this breath to be similar to rotting apples or bruised apples.
If the breath smells like nail polish, then the culprit is that of acetone. If you smell ammonia from your breath as well as urine, then the problem here is an excessive breakdown of proteins.
Managing Keto Breath
Drinking more water can help the kidneys flush out ammonia and other byproducts of both fat and protein metabolism. It will also help if you can increase your consumption of fat while reducing your consumption of proteins. This will help reduce the production of ammonia and acetone.
One of the most important ways to manage keto breath is by eating the right amounts of carbohydrates. There are some fad diets that call for low carbohydrates. If you wish to adhere to such diets, then it would be best to aim for the higher limit of carbohydrate consumption.
Having keto breath is never fun. It lowers one’s self-esteem as most people will think one has poor oral hygiene. Making a few changes in your approach to dieting can help address this ketone- and ammonia-based bad breath.