Garlic and onions are very healthy and flavor the most diverse recipes wonderfully, but they leave behind – especially the garlic – the typical bad breath, the garlic flag.
According to a Phoenix dentist, bad breath after garlic consumption – which lasts up to 24 hours or more – is the result of the sulfur compound allicin. It is formed from the substance alliin when the garlic is cut, pressed, or chewed, i.e. when the cells of the garlic are destroyed. Allicin, in turn, produces various foul-smelling substances called diallyl disulfide, allyl methyl sulfide, allyl mercaptan, and allyl methyl disulfide, which in their entirety make up the garlic plume.
However, these substances are not only exhaled but also enter the blood and are therefore also released via the skin pores. So if you eat garlic, you not only smell from the mouth but also evaporate the garlic smell through the skin, which makes it all the more difficult to get rid of the smell.
Measures against garlic smell are necessary out of consideration alone
Now, of course, one could say that in many other countries garlic consumption is completely normal, no one there is bothered by the subsequent smell and we should simply take an example. What may be normal in one country, however, is far from being normal in the other – and since garlic is a matter of taste, at least in our latitudes, you should be considerate of your fellow human beings.
Although there are people for whom the garlic smell of their counterpart does not matter in the slightest, even if they have not eaten garlic themselves. But there are also people in whom someone else’s garlic flag causes downright nausea. Therefore, if garlic cannot be avoided despite social obligations, measures that largely neutralize the garlic smell are appropriate.
What can be done against bad breath after garlic?
The garlic plume develops particularly extremely when the garlic is eaten raw. Raw garlic should therefore really only be eaten if you do not come across anyone in the next 24 to 48 hours who have not also bitten into the raw tuber.
1. Steam the garlic
If the garlic is steamed, fried, boiled, or otherwise heated, then this alone reduces the later bad breath compared to raw consumption enormously.
2. Use and remove whole cloves of garlic
You can also cook or fry the whole garlic cloves and remove them from the sauce (or any other dish) before consumption. The food is thereby flavored, while the subsequent garlic smell of the breath is limited.
Also in the dressing, you can let whole garlic cloves steep for 30 to 60 minutes and remove them before preparing the salad.
3. Eat an apple, some lettuce leaves, or mint leaves with a garlic smell
In a study from September 2016, the effect of different foods on garlic breath was investigated. Immediately after eating garlic, the subjects consumed water, a raw apple, boiled apple, apple juice, raw or cooked salad, mint leaves, juice from mint leaves, or green tea. Subsequently, the content of the typical garlic substances in the breath was measured within the next hour.
The raw apple, raw salad, and mint leaves were able to reduce the garlic substances in the breath. Presumably, it is the polyphenols (secondary plant substances) that remove the said substances from the breathing air via an enzymatic reaction. Apple juice and mint leaf juice were also still effective, but nowhere near as effective as the whole foods. Interestingly, green tea showed no effect in this study.
The latter may be repeatedly recommended against the garlic plume because it is very suitable as a mouthwash for the prevention of caries and plaque and it is concluded that it can generally improve the breath. However, green tea has no particular influence on a garlic plume, as the study presented below confirms.
4. Brushing your teeth and chewing gum are not of much use for garlic bad breath
The usual tips such as drinking water after eating garlic, brushing your teeth, and cleaning your tongue are of no use against the garlic smell. Even mint-containing chewing gum, mint dragees or strongly flavored mouthwashes may overlay the smell in the first few minutes, but before the garlic breath immediately reappears.
5. Green tea reduces bad breath after garlic consumption – but only in the short term
Not even against normal bad breath could the measures mentioned under 4. permanently do anything, as a study from 2008 showed. In this study, green tea had proven to be more helpful than the other means (brushing teeth, chewing gum, etc.). He was able to reduce the content of sulfur-containing substances in the breath better, but also only in the short term. Because already after one hour after eating green tea, no effect was to be observed.
Of course, green tea could only reduce the odor-forming substances in the first hour, but not eliminate them.
6. Traditionally, cow’s milk was drunk with garlic
In older studies, in addition to apples, green tea, bitter kuding tea, plums, pears, mushrooms, and milk are mentioned. However, milk should be drunk directly with garlic. Then, it is said, it would help reduce the sulfur compounds of garlic. Whole milk is more effective than low-fat milk. Dairy products such as yogurt, cottage cheese, etc. are said to be similarly effective. It is best to keep the respective dairy product in the mouth for a while to work optimally.
Of course, this tip is only useful if the dairy product fits the respective dish and you want to eat/drink dairy products at all or tolerate them. Furthermore, since it is assumed that components of milk protein inhibit the effect of some antioxidant substances, it could be that dairy products reduce the health properties of garlic, which is now again unfavorable if you want to eat the garlic for health reasons.
7. Drinking lemon water doesn’t help much
Lemon water (1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice per 150 ml of water) is also recommended again and again in the fight against the garlic plume. The lemon water should be drunk immediately after a garlic-containing dish.
One variant is to put the raw garlic in lemon juice before cooking or steaming and only then use it. But even the lemon tips can only slightly soften the garlic breath.
8. Baking soda, herbs, and ginger help with the garlic smell
Other home remedies for bad breath after garlic consumption are baking soda, herbs, and ginger.
Baking soda is considered a natural deodorizer. The substance can absorb odors, apparently without having to swallow baking soda. Put a small spoonful of the powder in a glass of water (150 ml) and use it to make a thorough mouthwash.
Certain herbs such as mint leaves, parsley, basil, cardamom seeds, and sage conceal the smell for a short time. For this purpose, it is best to chew the fresh herbs or seeds.
However, the garlic smell returns after a short time. So you have to chew the herbs practically non-stop to achieve a helpful effect.
If you chew small pieces of ginger, an enzyme is mobilized in the saliva that breaks down the substances responsible for the onion or garlic smell. The effectiveness depends on the extent of garlic consumption. If you have eaten a lot of garlic or possibly raw garlic, it takes a lot of ginger pieces to achieve a lasting effect.
9. Swallow garlic without chewing
It should not come to a garlic plume, if you cut the garlic into small pieces and swallow them e.g. with tomato juice, without chewing them – as a reader wrote to us. Of course, this approach is only ideal for people who do not want to taste the garlic, but only want to take it for health.
However, you don’t just smell the garlic from your mouth. The garlic smell escapes from all skin pores. How could these body evaporations be prevented?