According to a new study, a popular health routine millions of people do every day could be increasing their risk for diabetes. Could using mouthwash be bad for your health?
Mouthwash use linked to diabetes?
Scientists at the Department of Pathology and Center for Free Radical Biology in the University of Alabama recently published findings in the journal Nitric Oxide, which suggests that the antiseptics in commonly available mouthwashes may end up killing friendly oral bacteria that are essential to the formation of a compound called nitric oxide (which helps regulate insulin).
Summing up their results, study co-author Rakesh P. Patel said, “Frequent regular use of over-the-counter mouthwash was associated with increased risk of developing prediabetes/diabetes in this population.”
In fact, the observational study examined over 1,000 subjects divided into three groups:
- The first group used mouthwash twice a day.
- A second group used mouthwash just once a day.
- A third group did not use any mouthwash.
The group that used mouthwash twice a day had a 55 percent greater chance of developing either prediabetes or full diabetes within the three years that the study took place. Those who gargled with mouthwash just once a day did not show an increased risk for the condition.
Diabetes is now a global epidemic
Health officials say that rates of diabetes are reaching epidemic proportions in the United States and across the globe. Here are some alarming facts:
- Diabetes now kills more Americans than breast cancer and AIDS combined.
- According to the CDC, more than one in four Americans is living with prediabetes or diabetes (that’s 100 million people in the U.S. alone).
- Diabetes doubles your risk for heart disease.
- Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in work-age people.
How to prevent diabetes
Most cases of diabetes can be prevented by better diet, more exercise and weight reduction activities. Health experts also recommend the importance of proper hydration (getting plenty of water), adequate rest and stress reduction. This last point is often overlooked, but stress often causes many people to overeat processed meals and junk foods, which tax the pancreas by raising blood glucose levels.
Most nutritionists and naturopathic physicians recommend a plant-based or Mediterranean style diet as being two of the best approaches to preventing or managing type 2 diabetes. Indeed, numerous studies confirm that fruits, vegetables and nuts are rich in things that help people maintain healthy blood glucose levels.
As Sharon Palmer, a registered dietician puts it, “Study after study has tightly linked eating a plant-based diet with decreasing a number of chronic diseases — [particularly] type 2 diabetes.” Here’s why:
- Fruits, veggies and nuts are rich in fiber, antioxidants, phytonutrients and healthy fats. These foods do not raise your blood sugar suddenly (like meats, processed fare or junk food). That’s because the glucose is released slowly since it is trapped within the plant-based fiber.
- Studies show that consumption of many types of nuts (particularly almonds) can help promote weight loss and lessen hunger (obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes).
- Numerous studies have shown that coffee consumption can significantly decrease the risk of getting diabetes. Scientists believe that beneficial compounds in coffee counteract the buildup of toxic proteins in the liver and pancreas. As Dr. Kun Huangexplains “We [have] found [that] three major coffee compounds can reverse this toxic process and may explain why coffee drinking is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.” Be sure to go organic though (and skip the creamer) because the beneficial compounds in your morning brew are in the plant-based coffee beans (not the dairy additives).
Trade commercial mouthwash for homemade
Going easy on mouthwash is probably a good idea for many reasons. Dental associations have long warned that the alcohol in common rinses may increase the risk of oral cancers. In addition, most mouthwashes contain a host of risky chemical antiseptics and preservatives that have been linked to hypertension, breast cancer and allergic reactions.
On the other hand, all natural rinses are easy to make and very effective in keeping your breath fresh and your mouth clean. Here’s one homemade recipe you can try:
Super Simple Peppermint Mouthwash
1 cup filtered water
4 tsp baking soda
4 drops peppermint essential oil
4 drops tea tree essential oil
Mix ingredients in a mason jar.
Shake before each use.