You may love onions, but find they don't love you. Or, at least, the people who love you don't love them on your breath. If you overindulge in onions occasionally and don't want to have reach for the mouthwash every time you talk to someone, try these remedies for onion lovers who want to remain socially acceptable.
Onions can cause bad breath not because the smell lingers in your mouth, but because your body absorbs the odor from your food and then expels it from the lungs with every breath you take, according to dentist Phillip Lainson of the University of Iowa. Even if your closest friends won't tell you, you can be fairly sure that your breath smells if you’ve eaten a lot of onions recently. Mouthwash and breath mints may help briefly, but they just mask the odor for a short time.
Onions contain fructose, which can produce intestinal gas, adding to the average of 1 to 4 pints of gas that most people produce each day. Intestinal gas, which contains carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and, in some people, methane, only smells bad when bacteria in the intestines produce sulfur, which exits with the odorless gases. To reduce gas when overindulging in onions, take digestive enzyme supplements that help your body break down sugars such as fructose, as long as your doctor approves of their use.
What goes down might come back up. Acid reflux, which occurs when the valve between the esophagus and stomach doesn't close properly, can occur if you overindulge in onions, a notorious cause of reflux, according to Dr. C. Blake Simpson, an otolaryngologist -- or specialist in disorders of the head and neck -- on staff at the University of Texas Health Science Center. Stomach acid can travel up into your throat and, if it happens often enough, you may develop either gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, or a condition known as laryngopharyngeal reflux disease, or LPR. Losing weight, not eating closer than three hours before bedtime and raising the head of your bed 4 to 6 inches can help prevent episodes of reflux after an onion binge.
A little onion goes a long way, both in cooking and in eating. If you've inadvertently put too much onion in a food dish, you may have to double, triple or quadruple the recipe to salvage the dish. If you can't help eating too much onion, be prepared for temporary social rejection unless you take steps to keep from burping, passing gas or just permeating the air with onion odors.