Want to Stay Young for Long? Could This $17 Gadget Be the Secret to It? Many Celebrities Swear by It and Experts and Researchers Say the Science behind it Stacks up
YOU might have thought that spending a fortune on anti-ageing creams, costly Botox injections and even more expensive fillers was the secret to staying young. But think again. Apparently we could shave off years by using a device that costs just a few pounds — a tongue scraper. This practice is used in the traditional Hindu system of healing known as Ayurvedic medicine. Also, many celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Gisele Bündchen have touted tongue scraping. Tongue-scrapers are also in the goodie bags guests like Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell. Sure, they’re no experts. However, they do need a clean tongue in their line of profession.
You may take your tongue for granted. However, this powerful muscle works non-stop while remaining on the front lines of your oral world. With hundreds of microscopic grooves it can trap a wide variety of material, typically in the back where saliva and hygiene efforts aren’t as efficient in removing food remnants. Bizarre as it sounds, new scientific research suggests that getting a healthy balance of bacteria in your mouth — particularly on your tongue, which can harbor millions of types of bacteria – could be the key to looking younger.
This is because good oral bacteria appears to assist production of a molecule called nitric oxide, which plays a crucial role in many physiological processes in the human body, including regenerating old and damaged blood cells.
Our tongues house more than 200 different types of bacteria, which do not only invade the oral cavity but through many ways can cause problems in our whole body e.g. heart diseases, enhance diabetes, cause premature birth and many more.
According to Dr Nathan Bryan, the world’s leading expert on nitric oxide and the man who has spent nearly the last decade researching and developing ways to restore nitric oxide levels in the human body, scraping the back of your tongue for five seconds every day with a curved metal scraper will remove significant amounts of food particles and debris and help ‘good’ bacteria to flourish.
Dr Bryan, an assistant professor at the University of Texas and the Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer at Neogenis Labs , says: ‘Our data suggests that the bacteria on the tongue contribute about 50 per cent of the body’s total nitric oxide production. Tongue-scraping may allow for more diversity, so the “good” bacteria flourish and generate more nitric oxide.’
Most tongue scrapers are simple in design and easy to use and they serve for a long time before breaking. They consist of a U-shaped piece of stainless steel, copper or silver that is sometimes attached to a plastic handle or handles. They are designed to clean the fuzz from the tongue, from back to front, usually first thing in the morning as a regular habit. Just scrape from back to front a couple of times and rinse the tongue scraper well. This reduces bacteria count, cleans off toxins that accumulate on the tongue overnight, and helps stimulate different organs of the body via reflex points on the tongue. The handy gadgets work better than brushes for cleaning the tongue as they are specifically designed for the shape and texture of the tongue to effectively remove any bacterial coating. Toothbrushes are designed for the hard surface of the teeth. However, they have been shown not to be as effective in removing the coating as a tongue scraper.
As I already said nitric oxide has anti-ageing properties. But how does it help keep you younger? Scientific research proves major causes of ageing relate to three factors. The ageing process happens when, every time a cell divides, the telomeres at the end of our chromosomes, which help our DNA replicate accurately, shorten. Research is showing that as we age, our bodies start making poorer copies of our DNA. At the same time our mitochondria — tiny organelles inside cells that are involved in releasing energy from food — stop working as hard as they used to, so our cells don’t get as much energy. And the third reason is that stem cells, which repair and replace our tissues, also become less efficient at regenerating tissues, especially after exposure to toxins and radiation.
Dr Bryan explains that nitric oxide helps to regulate all three of these processes — and slows down the decline in these functions.
He explains that good oral bacteria produce chemicals called nitrites, which build up in your saliva, which can then be converted to nitric oxide via both NOS-independent mechanisms in the stomach and NOS-dependent mechanisms in the intestine from the amino acid l-arginine. Dr Bryan explains that this process helps to protect tissues in the body from “advanced ageing” and that over time, everything from your organs to your skin could age more slowly.
Unfortunately, as we age, we lose 85% of our body’s ability to produce nitric oxide, which results in the aging process. This means that the older we get, the more important it is to get the right balance of oral bacteria.
Tongue scraping has been recommended by the British Dental Journal (BDJ), the UK’s leading dental journal and one of the leading scientific journals worldwide. This journal backs the theory that tongue scraping “helps fight the ageing process”.
Tongue scraping is not a new idea. The Romans and Victorians were keen ‘scrapers’ – and the routine is a major part of oral care routines in India and China. In Indian Ayurvedic medicine regular cleaning of ‘ama’ — the supposedly ‘toxic’ coating on the tongue — is recommended for good health.
That tongue scraping can help to clean the palate allowing ‘taste buds to function better,’ which is very important if your diet contains a good amount of dairy, cheese, oils, and other processed foods. According to the Government’s Malnutrition Task Force — an independent group of experts aiming to help older people eat better – tongue scraping will help clear the thick, lasting residue these foods could leave behind robbing you of the true taste of foods.
In order to maintain our ability to taste and detect different flavors, our taste cells (epithelial origin) located in our taste buds are renewed every ten days to two weeks, but less and less are produced as you grow older. Also, as we grow older a reduction in saliva production reduces. When we combine both fewer taste buds and lower saliva levels (needed to dissolve the food and drink), we can see why ‘sans taste’ can become a reality for so many in later life.
Tongue scraping, some experts say, can also help with bad breath, which is definitely one of the most embarrassing conditions related to the mouth. Most people think practicing good oral health habits begins and ends with some floss and a toothbrush. However, that’s not actually the case. Believe it or not, cleaning your tongue is equally important since this powerful muscle that works non-stop while remaining on the front lines of your oral world can harbor millions of types of bacteria. According to a study in the Journal of Peridontology – the learned journal of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) – about half of bad breath cases are caused by a build-up of bacteria on the tongue. Brushing teeth using toothbrushes removes half of the microbes to blame because they are designed for the hard surface of the teeth. On the other hand, tongue-scraping has been found to reduce them by three-quarters. A study published in the Journal of Periodontology reports that, “Although the tongue coating was removed by both methods [toothbrush and tongue scraper], the tongue scraper performed better in reducing the production of volatile sulfur compounds.”
Marc Lowenberg, a cosmetic dentist at Lowenberg, Lituchy, and Kantor in New York City, says “Bad breath is a by-product of toxins from the bacteria inside your mouth.” Tongue scraping removes the build-up of toxins in the body and remnants of food leaving the mouth feeling fresher and more hygienic. In addition to bad breath, bacteria in the mouth also leads to a buildup of plaque, which causes tooth decay, gum disease and other conditions affecting the mouth.
Plus they make your tongue look better, getting rid of that unsightly white coating, and can even enhance your taste buds and the flavours you experience. Some researchers even say that regular tongue scraping, in addition to teeth brushing, could help your teeth look whiter, too. A study by the Journal of American Dentistry found counts of streptococci — one of the main microorganisms which are associated with the aetiology of dental caries — increase dramatically when the tongue is not cleaned.
“Tongue scraping is a really good idea and in my opinion everyone should be doing it. By removing plaque, bad bacteria and sulphur-containing compounds, you can eliminate bad breath,” says Dr Richard Marques, celebrity dentist at Wimpole Street Dental. “It also reduces the amount of bad bacteria in the oral cavity. These bacteria ultimately lead to cavities and periodontal disease (gum problems).”
These benefits of tongue scraping show how this simple practice, once or twice per day, could be highly significant when it comes to your health. There is literally no drawback to using one, as tongue scrapers are extremely inexpensive, and even a high-end tongue scraper won’t cost much more than $20. That’s why it’s no surprise that sales of tongue scrapers are booming, with high-end stores Harrods and Selfridges now stocking them.