What do betel leaf, areca nut and slaked lime all have in common? They are all ingredients in a product called gutka, a stimulant chew used primarily in India that can cause bad breath, among many other harmful side effects.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that this product, which is used by an estimated 600 million people worldwide, is used in much the same way as chewing tobacco. An individual places a small pouch of gutka between the lip and gums, sucks and occasionally spits out the residue.
Besides staining sidewalks and walls - a common problem in gutka-using countries - this product can do serious damage to one's health. A study appearing in the journal Acta Odontologica Scandinavica found that individuals who chew gutka often had periodontal disease, missing teeth or gum disease.
Gutka is, like chewing tobacco, also known to cause nicotine addiction, low birth weight, halitosis and mouth cancer, the CDC states. Besides abstaining from the substance, those hoping to improve their breath might do well to look into specialty breath freshening rinses and tongue scrapers.