Health & Fitness

Spittin’ image

Major League Baseball tried to ban chewing tobacco in 2011, but players like the Red Sox’ David Ortiz and Giants’ pitchers Madison Bumgarner and Jake Peavy still chaw and spit and spit and spit. Fortunately, many dugouts are discouraging dippin’; they’re stocked with sunflower seeds and bubble gum instead. In a single season, the Cleveland Indians go through 10 cases of Bazooka bubble gum (regular and sugarless) and 12 cases of sunflower seeds. Seems spitting seeds keeps things as juicy as ever, but much healthier!

Now, we’re actually against expectoration, since saliva is best kept in your mouth! A new study reveals that mucous in your saliva traps harmful bacteria and fungi in what researchers call NETs, keeping them from getting into your body! That’s why it’s so important to keep your mouth moist, producing sufficient saliva. It keeps your microbiome in there balanced, happy and healthy.

What can interfere with sufficient saliva? Many meds do, including antidepressants, drugs for nerve pain and anxiety, some antihistamines, decongestants, muscle relaxants and pain medications. It also might happen because of an autoimmune condition called Sjogren’s syndrome or HIV/AIDS. And, oh yes, chewing tobacco (and smoking) can dry you out, too.

To ease dry mouth, talk to your doc about the side effects of your meds; try over-the-counter rinses, artificial saliva or moisturizers; or ask your doc about prescription meds that stimulate saliva production. Then have a sunflower seed! They’re packed with potassium, magnesium and vitamin B-6! But hold on to your saliva; you need it.

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Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit