FIT WebQoof: Should You Be Gulping Down Your Morning Saliva?

It is a common conception that gulping down morning saliva is beneficial for health. Is there any truth in this? 

Updated17 May 2019, 05:22 AM IST
3 min read
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The various functions that saliva performs have been discussed extensively in various studies. It plays a diagnostic role in determining one’s oral and overall health, aids digestion, acts as a lubricant, facilitates taste, and is anti-bacterial.

The Claim

We received a WhatsApp query on the validity of the belief that gulping morning saliva could be beneficial for health.

FIT WebQoof: Should You Be Gulping Down Your Morning Saliva?
(Photo: WhatsApp) 

Upon further research, it was realized that such a belief is actually very common.

FIT WebQoof: Should You Be Gulping Down Your Morning Saliva?
(Photo: Quora)
FIT WebQoof: Should You Be Gulping Down Your Morning Saliva?
(Photo: Quora

True or False?

While there is no scientific evidence to support the claim, a starting point to investigate such a matter is to look into the digestive properties of saliva in general.

It has been established that saliva plays a role in the initiation of starch digestion. The serous and acinar cells secrete an alpha amylase which can begin to digest dietary starch into maltose.

On the other hand, however, there are claims that harmful bacteria enter and accumulate in the saliva overnight, making it important to brush your teeth first thing in the morning.

What the Experts Have to Say

In lieu of the lack of scientific evidence on properties of morning saliva, FIT spoke to two experts to reach a possible answer to the question.

Dr Ashwini Setya, a Gastroenterologist and Programme Director in Delhi’s Max Super Speciality Hospital, explained that saliva has large digestive enzymes such as amylase that help in digesting certain types of carbs. The fluid becomes more concentrated and thickens during the night because of mouth breathing and no recurrent swallowing.

Going by this logic, it makes sense that swallowing the saliva could be beneficial, since essentially, the digestive enzymes are being consumed in a concentrated form. 
Dr Ashwini Setya

Nutritionist Rupali Datta seemed to agree. She reconfirmed the lack of any scientific evidence, but added that many doctors suggest swallowing the saliva because the microbes and bacteria that grow and accumulate overnight are actually beneficial for the body and may improve gut bacteria.

She explains, “When food gets into the mouth, the first body secretion that it comes in contact with is saliva, one of the main functions of which is to kill bacteria. Thus, there is no reason to believe that the bacteria-killing properties would stop operating overnight or early in the morning.”

Although it is mostly hearsay and traditional folklore, what is known is that saliva is a very strong anti-bacterial agent. It is also commonly advised to apply it on bruises or scars because of its anti-septic qualities.
Rupali Datta

Speaking of bacteria, Dr Setya informs that bacteria is everywhere at any given point of time.

There are more than three trillion bacteria in our body. Not all of them are harmful.
Dr Ashwini Setya

The Verdict

The experts agree that while nothing definite can be said for or against the potential benefits of gulping down morning saliva, there is certainly no harm in doing it. In fact, considering the many functions that our saliva performs, and given its anti-bacterial and digestive properties, there is reason to not disclaim it completely.

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Published: 15 May 2019, 05:52 AM IST

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