A study was conducted recently by researchers at Plymouth University, UK, which stated that inadvertent gulping of mouthwash could reduce benefits of exercise. When we exercise, the diameter of the blood vessel broadens and helps keep blood pressure down. Even after a few hours of working out, blood pressure is below average which is also called post-exercise hypotension. There is no concrete reason as to why it happens. When we exercise, our body produces more nitric oxide which enlarges our blood vessels.
The research emphasizes the importance of bacteria in our saliva. Author of the study who is a nutritional physiologist based on studying other researches stated that a byproduct of nitric oxide, i.e. nitrate is many times gobbled up by bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria present in moth convert it to nitrite which is absorbed by the body when we swallow saliva, and a part of that is converted back to nitric oxide. The team at Plymouth University, UK theorized that because of this process, adequate nitric oxide is absorbed into bloodstream and helps to maintain low level of blood pressure. Using mouthwash to test their hypothesis was very easy, so the team used mouthwash containing chlorhexidine. Chlorhexidine is a powerful antiseptic that is also used in over the counter mouthwashes. The team had evidence that it could limit activity of bacteria in mouth and specifically nitrile synthesis.
The experiment was conducted on 23 healthy adults. The participants were asked to run on a treadmill for half an hour on two separate days. Researchers recorded their blood pressure for 2 hours. Meanwhile, in these 2 hours participants were asked to swig placebo or mouthwash. It was conducted twice, and the team made sure that everyone swigged both. The team analyzed the results and found that those who swigged mouthwash, their blood pressure wasn’t that low. Also, after 2 hours that effect had vanished entirely. This was because it affected ability to produce nitrile which reduced level of nitrite in saliva. The author stated that for the first time it had been proved that oral nitrate/nitrite pathway is crucial for cardiovascular benefits of working out.