Spicy foods can leave breath with more than a hint of halitosis

1 green pepper and 4 red peppers

Hot sauce, curry, spices and hot food can really give a meal a kick, but afterward you may end up suffering from hours of halitosis, indigestion and heartburn.

That is not to say that spicy foods don't redeem themselves. Dozens of hottest-of-the-hot spicy meal competitions exist all over the U.S., like the Fiery Food Challenge Awards in Irving, Texas. This year, Tampa native Michele Northrup took the top prize at the festival for her chipotle sauce, according to Tampa Bay Online.

Her Chai Chipotle Cocktail, Chai Chipotle Chup, Chai Curry Chup and Garlic Goodness hot sauces garnered other prizes as well.

While these foods may be tasty, they can contribute to bad breath in a number of ways. First and foremost, they simply leave a film of spice on the tongue that tinges every exhalation with the smell of spice.

A more lingering effect may be caused by the capsaicin in peppers. Capsaicin is the chemical compound that gives spice its "hot" feeling. This sensation can be dampened by drinking milk, according to the Frostburg State University's chemistry department. A study in the journal Physiology and behavior found that a chilled sugar solution works, too.

However, in either situation these liquids can feed oral bacteria, which cause bad breath. Besides avoiding spicy foods, which isn't always easy, individuals with bad breath may consider using a specialty breath freshener and brushing several times each day.

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