noun_Search_345985 Created with Sketch.

Bad Breath or Body Odor? The Paleo Fix To ‘Turn Down The Stink’

By Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, MSc, CISSN, CSCS
December 24, 2014
Bad Breath or Body Odor? The Paleo Fix To ‘Turn Down The Stink’ image

Nothing kills a conversation, business meeting or holiday party quicker than bad breath or body odor. If you’re following a Paleo Diet and experiencing improved health and performance, you may be stumped as to how your breath has suddenly taken a turn for the worst. While this isn’t the case for everyone, increased protein consumption can increase the likelihood of increased bacterial growth in the mouth. These bacteria produce volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), the malodorous offenders that lead to bad breath.1,2 Furthermore, when it comes to body odor, studies have shown that the odor of non-meat eaters is considered “more attractive” than meat eaters!3

Does this mean you need to stop eating protein if you suffer from bad breath or body odor? Not at all, but you may need to make a few changes. Of course, your number 1 prevention should be maintain good dental hygiene. However, here are five tips you may not know that will help prevent the accumulation of foul-smelling VSCs and the dreaded B.O.:

Increase cooling foods

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, excess heat in the body leads to symptoms of bad breath, foul–smelling stool, and mucous accumulation. Foods that increase heat in the body are chiefly proteins and grains, so if you’re a Paleo follower the high protein intake may be leading to excess heat, drying up your digestive tract and contributing to constipation, smelly stool, and bad breath.

The good news is it’s easy to bring your body back into balance­–start increasing your intake of cooling foods, such as radishes, cucumbers, celery, watermelon, cantaloupe, pears, and apples. The Paleo Diet® after all focuses upon keep protein intake balanced with vegetables and fruits.

Add fermented foods

Studies show that dysbiosis or the overgrowth of ‘bad’ gut bacteria may be a key contributor to bad breath.4 Correct potential imbalances of ‘good’ to ‘bad’ gut flora by increasing your intake of Paleo-friendly fermented foods.

Be sure to eat fermented foods on a daily basis as part of a well-rounded Paleo Diet: raw cultured vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchee, natto miso, tamari sauce, kombucha tea, as well as polyphenol-rich green tea. Just double check you’re miso and tamari are free of added-salt!

Increase your chlorophyll intake

While protein is the most nutrient dense food, containing the greatest concentrations of essential amino acids, fats, vitamins, minerals, and co-factors, you can’t forget your veggies! Especially chlorophyll-rich green vegetables.

Chlorophyll is a green pigment found in algae and green plants, absorbing sunlight and converting it into energy. Green leafy veggies are loaded with chlorophyll, a powerful antioxidant and deodorizer that can be effective in your fight against bad breath and body odor.

Spinach and parsley pack the biggest chlorophyll punch, at approximately 24mg and 19mg respectively per half cup. Arugula, green beans, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, asparagus and zucchini are also great choices. Be sure to include a selection at every meal of the day.

Reduce stress

In order to effectively reduce body odor, you need to get to the root of the problem. For many, this means reducing stress levels. The apocrine sweat glands increase their output in times of stress, in particular mental or emotional stress.5 The odorless, oily secretion then reacts with bacteria on your body to produce bad body odor.

If you have long, busy workdays or are under a great deal of stress, it could be the trigger that tips you over the ‘B.O.’ edge. To help reduce stress and activation of your sympathetic fight or flight nervous system, try eliminating coffee for two weeks, increasing your total sleep time, and trying some deep belly breathing to help blunt your overactive ‘sweat producing’ sympathetic nervous system.

Apply herbal anti-microbials

If you’re experiencing consistently bad breath or body odor you can turn to herbal solutions. For bad breath, try gargling with peppermint oil, a potent anti-microbial that kills off harmful bacteria and leaves the breath fresh. Mix 1-2 drops with water and swish in your mouth for 30 seconds. For body odor, try adding tea tree or lavender essential oils to your skin. These natural anti-microbial oils kill bacteria and leave skin smelling fresh. Add a few drops to a damp cloth and dab onto your skin.

If you’re concerned about bad breath or body odor, there is no better time than now, before the holidays, to bring things back into balance. Try these five tips to knock out the unpleasant odors and ‘turn down the stink’ once and for all.


[1]Krespi YP et al. The relationship between oral malodor and volatile sulfur compound-producing bacteria. Otolaryngol Head Neck Sur 2006 Nov;135(5):671-6.

[2]T Imfeld. [Bad breath--aetiology, differential diagnosis and therapy]. Ther Umsch 2008 Feb;65(2):83-9.

[3]J Havlicek and P Lenochova. The Effect of Meat Consumption on Body Odor Attractiveness. Senses (2006) 31 (8): 747-752.

[4]Anjlkumar K and Monish A. Role of friendly bacteria in oral health – a short review. Oral Health Prev Dent. 2012;10(1):3-8

[5]C Calill, et al. Effects of stress hormones on the production of volatile sulfur compounds by periodontopathogenic bacteria. Braz Oral Res 2014 Jan-Feb;28(1).

Even More Articles For You

Nell’s Corner: Immunity and Inflammation During COVID-19
We all want to avoid getting sick, but what is most important - avoidance, building immunity or reducing inflammation? Nell’s Corner addresses this questions.
By Nell Stephenson
Inflammatory Bowel Disorders: Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis According to the Mismatch Hypothesis (part 2)
In part 2, we explore the official guidelines for treating IBD and how successful they are at helping patients avoid surgery. We also review the non-pharmaceutical interventions such as diet.
By Raphael Sirtoli, M.Sc.
Podcast: Eat Your Heart Out
For the best selection of Paleo Diet recipes & articles, visit The Paleo Diet® website. Browse our Paleo lunch recipes, Paleo dinner recipes & more now!
By The Paleo Diet® Team
Paleo Leadership
Trevor Connor
Trevor Connor

Dr. Loren Cordain’s final graduate student, Trevor Connor, M.S., brings more than a decade of nutrition and physiology expertise to spearhead the new Paleo Diet team.

Mark J Smith
Dr. Mark J. Smith

One of the original members of the Paleo movement, Mark J. Smith, Ph.D., has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the benefits of Paleo nutrition.

Nell Stephenson
Nell Stephenson

Ironman athlete, mom, author, and nutrition blogger Nell Stephenson has been an influential member of the Paleo movement for over a decade.

Loren Cordain
Dr. Loren Cordain

As a professor at Colorado State University, Dr. Loren Cordain developed The Paleo Diet® through decades of research and collaboration with fellow scientists around the world.