- Overlooked Factors
Read my disclaimer
Dry Mouth - The Links to Nutritional
and Fatty Acid Deficiencies
Based on my personal experiences
and research, my theory is that at least some cases of dry
mouth (xerostomia) result from essential fatty acid and nutritional
deficiencies which may be correctable with diet changes. I developed dry
mouth, dry eyes and dry eczema like rashes on my skin when I went on a
carbohydrate restricted, was also high in protein, a very acidic food.
My symptoms all cleared when I switched to a lower protein, higher fruit
and vegetable (and consequently more alkaline) diet to try to reverse
Experts seem divided on whether
diets that restrict carbohydrates are good for you. In my personal experience,
that kind of diet clearly was not healthy for me. On the plus side, I
did lose a lot of weight very quickly. However, I also became dehydrated
and developed high blood pressure, dry mouth, dry skin and eczema. From
scanning forums, these seem to be rather common side effects of these
types of diets. Ammonia smell in the urine may
be another related symptom.
Dry Mouth Treatments
After reading up on my various
dryness related health issues, I tried some things I found on the web,
in my natural health and especially my Ayurvedic health books. I also
kept a diet diary to see what food helped and what didn't alleviate my
symptoms. I've listed those below. As of this writing everything has cleared
up pretty well.
Foods I found helpful:
Foods high in essential
fatty acids - I ate more salmon,
walnuts and leafy green vegetables.
According to my natural health books, these are supposed to be good
for eczema. They did seem to clear up the eczema like rashes I was
developing along with my dry mouth and dry eyes. I got this tip from
my natural health books.
Bitter green vegetables,
especially ones like broccoli and kale. I got this tip from my Ayurvedic
health books, and it helped more than the all of the mainstream medical
books and web sites I looked at put together.
Most vegetables, especially
- Bananas - they a an Ayurvedic
home remedy for an acid stomach and I found they work great.
Foods that made me worse:
- Anything with vinegar, especially
apple cider vinegar
- Spicy Foods - like Thai
foods with garlic
- Fast Food - burgers and
fries, especially from McDonald's for some reason.
- Citrus fruits
- Acidic foods
- Spicy foods
- Meat, especially pork chops.
- Orange juice
- Lowfat yogurt with active
cultures. In general yogurt is good for an upset stomach, but I think
too much of some kinds of the bacteria they add can make your stomach
over acid. Yogurt is one of the foods my Ayurvedic books list as a cause
of acid indigestion.
For more info on this topic
see my section on Acid and Alkaline foods.
Xerostomia and Acidosis
Why does carbohydrate restriction
bring on acidosis? When the body is deprived of carbohydrates, glucose
is not available to cells for an energy source, and as a result, ketone
bodies are formed from fatty acids. An elevation in circulating ketones
can disrupt the body's acid-base balance, causing metabolic acidosis,
a disturbance of the body's acid-base balance characterized by an increase
in total body acid.
One of the symptoms of metabolic
acidosis is dehydration. I believe dehydration as a side effect from my
carbohydrate restriction was responsible in part for my dry skin and mouth
problems. Another symptom of acidosis is lack of appetite, which is why
I think it makes it so easy to lose weight on these kinds of diets - you
just aren't hungry so you don't eat as much. That part is great, however,
it is not worth the other health risks.
Interestingly, in Ayurvedic
(traditional Indian medicine), dry mouth in associated with a "pitta
dosha" - people who have health conditions related to over acidity
such as ulcers and acid relux (heartburn). Many modern medical dry mouth
web sites actually do list hearburn as a symptom of xerostomia, but I
think they are mistaking association for cause and effect. I suspect
that a more logical way of looking at things would be to list both heartburn
and dry mouth as symptoms of acidosis.
When I was eating more protein
and less carbohydrates, I checked my urine ketone levels with ketone test
strips and my urinary ketone levels were in fact quite high. My urine
pH was also out of range on the acidic side. So in hindsight I suspect
I was suffering from acidosis brought on by high levels of ketones in
my blood, a condition called ketosis.
Dry Mouth, Sjogren's Syndrome
There seems to be a common
link between dry mouth and acidosis. In my case, my xerostomia appears
to have been brought on as a side effect of acidosis as a result of an
intentional (albeit short lived) carbohydrate reduction. However, I suspect
in others acidosis may be a common side effect of having an every day
standard American style diet, i.e. a diet high in acid forming meat and
grains and low in alkaline forming fruits and vegetables.
Perhaps not coincidentally,
diabetics and people with Sjogren's Syndrome both have symptoms of dry
mouth and in both cases these people also often seem to suffer from acidosis
as well. So a common link between dry mouth in diabetics, Sjogren's patients
and dieters who restrict carbohydrates all seems to be acidosis.
Interestingly, I noticed my dry mouth got worse on the my diet when I
had drinks with lemon and drinks with apple cider vinegar - two highly
acidic foods that holistic doctors recommend for weight loss. I think
now that they do help with weight loss by bringing on acidosis which suppresses
your appetite, but then as a downside of the acidosis you may get dry
mouth and all of the other problems related to dehydration from acidosis.