Science 3 min read

Mouthwash can Counter one of the key Benefits of Exercise

A new study just revealed that gargling mouthwash can counter the good effects of exercise to your body, particularly in reducing blood pressure.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

A recent study suggests that your mouthwash could make you miss out on one of the key benefits of exercise.

According to researchers at the University of Pilgrim in the UK, swigging mouthwash can prevent exercise from lowering your blood pressure as it should. As odd as it sounds, the findings emphasize the importance of the bacteria in our mouth.

Past studies have shown the significance of exercise in lowering our blood pressure. That’s because exercise gets our body to produce excess nitric acid, which in turn opens up the blood vessels.

But even when we’re done with our workout routine, and our body stops producing more nitric acid, the blood pressure still remains low for hours. Scientists have dubbed this phenomenon post-exercise hypotension.

While several theories have tried to explain why post-exercise hypotension occurs, no one has completely figured it out. But a nutritional physiologist at the University of Plymouth in the UK, Raul Bescos and his team had an interesting theory.

The researchers theorized that certain bacteria in the mouth gobbled up a byproduct of nitric oxide called nitrate. These microorganisms convert the nitrates into nitrite, which the body absorbs when we swallow saliva.

Based on Bescos and his team’s theory, the process turns some of the nitrites into nitric acid. This makes its way to our bloodstream to keep the blood pressure low.

The researchers decided to put the theory to the test.

Testing a Theory With a Mouthwash

To test this theory, the researchers used an antibacterial mouthwash containing a potent antiseptic called chlorhexidine.

In a statement to the press, study leader Bescos said:

“We used this approach because we had evidence that it was an effective method to inhibit the activity of oral bacteria, and more particularly, the nitrite synthesis in the mouth.”

Next, the researchers recruited 23 volunteers to run on a treadmill for 30 minutes on two separate occasions. After the workout, the team monitored the participants’ blood pressure for two hours.

During the two hours, some of the participants had to swig a mouthwash, while others took a placebo. On the second trip, they took whichever liquid they hadn’t taken the first time around.

Mouthwash Keeps Your Blood Pressure Up

The findings revealed that participants that took the mouthwash had a relatively constant blood pressure after the exercise, compared to those that took the placebo. And after two hours, the post-exercise effect was completely gone.

Since the biome diversity in the mouth was mostly intact, the mouthwash didn’t kill off the bacteria in the mouth. So, what happened?

Well, the mouthwash drastically reduced the microorganisms ability to produce nitrite. As a result, the level of nitrite in the saliva and blood decreased significantly.

The researcher admitted that most people probably don’t swig a bottle of mouthwash after jogging. However, the study shows how connected our oral health is to other parts of our lives.

The main message of this study is that we have to pay more attention to the oral conditions in order to get the maximum outcomes from exercise,” Bescos concluded.

Read More: There’s no Best Time to Work Out, Only Consistent Exercise Timing!

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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