Whether you like it or not, sweating is a part of your life, it’s your body’s primary method of cooling. You sweat when you exercise, when you’re nervous, or when you’re too hot. Sweating alone is odorless, but we often find that there is a noticeable odor accompanying it, especially after profuse sweating.
This unpleasant smell is actually a by-product of sweat and microbes (microbes) on the skin. Learn what really causes sweat odor, how to control it, and the health messages that changes in body odor can convey.
Bacteria: The Originator of Body Odor
As mentioned above, the culprit of body odor is actually bacteria, not sweat. Whenever you’re done physical activity, emotionally stressed, or too hot, your body seeks a way to cool off. This is your body’s evaporative cooling system. Sweat evaporates through pores on the surface of the skin, thereby reducing excess body heat. When sweat comes into contact with bacteria on your skin, it creates a pungent odor.
Odor is a by-product of bacteria breaking down sweat produced by sweat glands. When bacteria break down sweat, they produce compounds called thiols (pronounced “fluid”). This compound smells like onions, meat and sulfur. The culprit behind the smelly underarms is the thiols made by bacteria, not sweat. This bacteria is actually a normal and healthy part of your skin’s microbial environment, and the one most responsible for body odor is Staphylococcus hominis.
Different sweat, different smell?
You sweat during exercise, heat, and stress, but sweat doesn’t necessarily all smell the same. This is because there are two types of sweat glands on your body, and the sweat produced by both glands is odorless, however, the location of these sweat glands and the unique microbiome can affect how they smell.
Eccrine sweat glands (aka eccrine glands) are found throughout the body. These glands excrete mainly water and activate when the body temperature increases. The apocrine glands (aka apocrine glands), which enlarge during puberty, excrete waste products in the form of proteins and lipids; stress triggers the apocrine glands to make sweat.
The apocrine glands are associated with body odor and are clustered in large numbers near hair follicles. These glands line the skin of your underarms and groin, and it’s no wonder that these two parts of the body are the main source of body odor. Bacteria that produce stinky thiols like to congregate near the apocrine glands, which is why “stress sweat” smells worse than sweat from heat or exercise.
Different people have different bacteria that take root on their skin, so your body odor is unique, and your strategies to control it will vary from person to person.
Bathing regularly can regulate the bacterial count on your skin so you don’t emit unpleasant odors. But this is only the first step.
Using deodorant and antiperspirant are two effective ways to control body odor. The two remedies work in different ways, but can often be used in combination to achieve good smelling results. Antiperspirants temporarily suppress sweat glands and reduce the amount of sweat on the skin, so less sweat is exposed to bacteria on the skin, which reduces the amount of odor released.
Deodorants change the chemistry of your skin to keep your underarms smelling fresh. Many deodorants are alcohol-based, which lowers the pH of your skin and changes the environment to an acid that is less conducive to bacteria. In addition to stopping microbes from taking root on your skin, some deodorants contain scents that can add some freshness.
Nutrition and Body Odor
Diet has a major impact on body odor. When the food you eat is broken down and digested, some by-products are released in your sweat. The following foods have been shown to increase body odor.
Eating a little less red, lean meat throughout the week is not only good for your health, but it also makes your body smell better. Evidence is mounting that cutting back on red meat is better for heart health and digestion. There is an interesting scientific study that proves this has the same effect on your personal body odor; after a two-week test period, women found that men who stopped eating red meat smelled more pleasant than men who increased their consumption of red meat Pleasant and more attractive. If you want to impress your girlfriend, try avoiding red meat.
Evidence of alcoholism can appear in your breath and sweat. When the body metabolizes alcohol, it releases a compound called acetic acid. Acetic acid is often found in vinegar and imparts a strong flavor. Excess acetic acid produced in alcohol metabolism is excreted through your pores, and when this spicy compound is mixed into your sweat, you may smell a different odor. Drinking alcohol in moderation and drinking alcoholic beverages with healthy, high-protein and high-fiber foods will help slow digestion and reduce odor.
Some foods have natural aromas, and this odor-producing compound doesn’t break down completely before leaving itself. These foods include curries, garlic and onions. Spicy foods can be added to meals to enhance flavor and are great for adding flavor to low-calorie dishes. But these high levels of sulfur can accentuate spice aromas and leave a distinctive odor in your breath. The same odor seeps through the sweat glands and mixes with the bacteria on the skin to create a particularly unpleasant odor.
But you don’t have to give up and eat only bland foods. When eaten in moderation, spicy food is very good for your health. These herbs and spices are thought to boost metabolism and are powerful antioxidants. By adding it to your diet regularly, you can avoid bad smells while reap the benefits of fighting free radicals.
In addition to being known to disrupt a healthy diet, junk food can also contribute to body odor. Highly processed and prepackaged foods are high in calories and sugar and lack an aromatic molecule called chlorophyll.
Chlorophyll (the green color of plants) is a potent antioxidant naturally present in green vegetables that neutralizes sweat and unpleasant odors from flatulence. It can also help remove bad substances from your body (detoxification). Chlorophyll can use its two molecules to trap unwanted molecules in the middle until our body excretes it. So please eat more green vegetables, which may be the secret to reducing body odor.
Bad Odor Signals – What Your Body Odor Is Telling You
While your routine personal hygiene may include masking body odor, it’s important to know that changes in your odor are also indicative of changes in your health.
Increased stress from work and schoolwork can significantly increase body odor. During times of physical and emotional stress, perspiration increases, providing enough sweat to mix with odor-causing bacteria. These body odor changes don’t just happen in your arms, your feet and breathing can also be affected.
Foot odor can appear during adolescence and persist into adulthood. But especially foul-smelling feet and shoes can be caused by fungal growth. Fungus thrives in moist, warm environments; damp sneakers and sweaty feet are the best places for a fungal infection.
To avoid attracting inexplicable fungus, never go barefoot in the gym locker room. Wear your sneakers, socks, and most importantly, keep your feet dry. A dry environment is less attractive to fungi and can prevent them from making your shoes smell bad. So, if you need your shoes to dry out, change your socks frequently and have two or three pairs of shoes ready to be worn in rotation.
Breathing sweetness is another noticeable body odor change. In healthy people, this usually occurs when carbohydrate intake is insufficient and the body breaks down fatty acids into energy; the breakdown of fatty acids produces acetone and other ketones, which give the breath a sweet, fruity taste.
Although sweating may make you feel or smell uncomfortable, it is a natural and healthy process. To avoid strong body odor, think about what actually causes the body odor. Keeping clean and using antiperspirant or deodorant can reduce the smell of bacteria on the surface of your skin. And keep an eye out for changes in body odor, as this could signal a change in your health.