Judaism requires men and women to fast at specific times throughout the year. On Yom Kippur, the holiest of days, fasting – no food or drink – from sunset to sunset, is part of our path to achieve atonement.
By not putting food or drink into our mouth, we no longer stimulate the salivary glands and thereby prevent them from producing saliva. This can produce bad breath, among other things. Saliva aids digestion because it contains enzymes and chemicals that begin the initial breakdown of the many components in our foods; as well, it maintains the balance in our mouth between harmful and helpful bacteria. Here are 10 tips for the upcoming fast.
- Drink 64 to 80 ounces of water during the 24-hour period before the fast begins to replenish the saliva. On a typical day, we use up to 50 ounces of saliva and fasting may increase this amount.
- Avoid all alcohol during the 24-hour period before the fast begins. As well, note that most mouthwashes can contain up to 27% alcohol and, therefore, create a dry mouth, making our breath worse, not better.
- Use an alcohol-free, oxygen-rich mouthwash, which can increase saliva by four percent.
- Avoid toothpaste containing sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), scientific term for soap, before and after the fast. SLS, an ingredient put into most toothpaste formulas to create a foaming action, is a severe drying agent. According to recent studies, SLS can lead to canker sores.
- Avoid breath mints and gum that contain sugar, before and after the fast. Sugar feeds all types of bacteria, especially those that create bad breath, gum disease and tooth decay.
- Avoid acidic vegetables, such as tomatoes, and fruits, such as grapefruits, oranges and their juices, during the 24-hour period before the past begins. These acids remain on the tooth surface and, due to the lack of saliva during the fast, they cannot be naturally neutralized.
- Eat lots of fruits and vegetables that contain a lot of liquid, such as apples, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, watermelon, celery and carrots. As an aside, eating parsley won’t help!
- Take all medications – primarily antihistamines, high blood pressure meds and antidepressants – immediately before the fast begins with lots of water. More than 75% of prescription medications have dry mouth syndrome as a side effect.
- Do not skip breakfast or any meal during the 24-hour period before the fast begins.
- Do not schedule a medical procedure that requires avoidance of food and drink during the 24-hour period before the fast begins.
For more information, visit therabreath.com.