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by Jennifer Brown Banks

Body Odor, Bad Breath
Dispelling Common Myths about Common Problems

Sometimes I’m amazed at just how uncommon “common sense” really is; how myths, maliciousness, and misguided minds seem to prevail.

“Did you hear the news about Brad Pitt?” My friend asked. (I was thinking that it was probably another boring headliner about him and Angelina! Enough already, I thought.)

"It seems that he’s made another top 10 list," she said. "The top 10 smelliest celebrities!"

“You’ve gotta be kidding,” I responded.

And as any good writer and news hound would do, I logged on to the Internet to do some sleuthing and find out if there was any validity to what I had heard. Sure enough, there it was in black and white, on a site called Teen Hollywood.

Brad Pitt was selected as one of the least hygienic stars in the world, reportedly by a Swedish showbiz expert, Mikael Jagerbrand. Supposedly, this comes after years of comments said to be received by co-stars complaining about his body odor. It also stated that rather than “merely taking a shower”, Pitt purchased a $3,600.00 Calvin Klein shirt to correct the problem.

Call me crazy, but I can’t imagine the news value of a negative piece like this. I really don’t understand why a “Top 10 Smelliest” list would even merit publication. Included on the list were other famous folks like Cameron Diaz, Davie Bowie, Christina Aguilera, and Russel Crowe, to name a few.

I am also amazed that the “unenlightened” believe that body odor can be eliminated by a simple shower. Sometimes it can, but it all depends on the source of the problem.

To raise others’ awareness and provide much needed info, I decided to pen this column.

Believe it or not, there are millions of people who suffer from common problems like body odor, bad breath, obesity and the social stigmas associated with it; people who are not unclean or inattentive to their hygiene; people who are not gluttonous or lazy; people who (maybe unbeknownst to you), have tried every brand, gimmick and diet advertised on TV commercials, with no success; people from every walk of life.

The other day, I was reading an advice column in a popular lifestyle magazine, where a guy was complaining about his date’s mouth odor. To which the columnist responded, “Give her a mint!”

That begs the question…if body odor, bad breath, and obesity were curable by mere soap and water, toothpaste and mouthwash, or smaller food portions, wouldn’t you think that fewer people would suffer from it?

There are many health and lifestyle reasons for these conditions, which include:

For Halitosis:

» Medications
» Digestive Problems (acid reflux, stomach gases)
» Poor Diets (i.e. not enough fiber, causing improper elimination and toxin build up in the body)
» Consumption of Pungent Foods (like onions and garlic)
» Diseases (lung disease, liver failure, diabetes)
» Poor Fitting Dentures
» Smoking
» Stress
» Post Nasal Drip

For Body Odors

» Improperly Fitting Clothes / Certain Materials (for Women)
» Infections
» Excessive Sweat
» Stress
» Alcohol
» Smoking
» Body Chemistry with Certain Colognes and Perfumes. (Have you ever noticed that a scent you admired on a friend smelled differently when applied to your skin)?

For Obesity:

» Medications
» Thyroid Problems
» Physical Limitations that Prevent Exercise
» Child Birth
» Ageing

And half the battle is identifying the origin of the problem, among the many possible sources. Here are some statistics worth noting:

» More than 90 million Americans suffer from bad breath (or halitosis).
» Americans spend over $33 billion annually on weight reduction products
» According to a market research finding, Americans spent 1.8 billion on toothpaste in the year 2000.
» 740 million was spent on mouthwashes and oral rinses.
» About 7% of people complaining of body odor do not completely digest particular foods due to in-born enzyme deficiencies.

The next time you encounter an individual plagued with these problems on a date, or in casual interaction, instead of turning up your nose, or passing judgment, why not give benefit of the doubt?

Don’t be too quick to render a verdict without knowing the facts about the case.

> - The best approach to find the one. <

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Jennifer's Gems is a weekly column written by award-winning poet and writer, Jennifer Brown Banks. It is published every Wednesday. Click here to read her welcome letter.

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