Sweat smell and diet. How does what we eat affect the smell of sweat and skin?

The smell of sweat depends on many factors, such as stress, hormone levels, illness and medications you take. Often, diet also contributes to the change in the smell of sweat. Nutrients that are supplied with foods are excreted from the body after metabolism, including along with sweat and decide about its smell. Check what effect you eat has on the smell of your sweat.

The smell of sweat is not constant and depends, among others from stress, hormone levels, systemic and skin diseases , drugs and stimulants used, e.g. cigarettes, as well as cosmetics or the material from which the clothes you wear are made. However, very often a bad diet contributes to a change in the smell of sweat.

Table of Contents

  • Diet and the smell of sweat. What not to eat so that sweat does not smell?
  • How does sweat affect the smell of the skin?
  • Eccrine sweat glands and the smell of sweat
  • Apocrine glands and their effect on the smell of sweat

Diet and the smell of sweat. What not to eat so that sweat does not smell?

Bacteria that live around the armpits mainly feed on proteins and fats, so you should limit the consumption of foods that are rich in these substances. It will be so-called unhealthy foods, i.e. high calories, low in vitamins and minerals.

To improve the smell of sweat (actually the smell of skin that is intensively sweating), in your daily diet you should avoid products that secrete sulfur compounds – enzymes that do not break down and are excreted with sweat intact (which is why they give such an unpleasant smell). This group includes, for example, onions, garlic and broccoli.

Foods containing preservatives and artificial colors are also inadvisable. Flavorings contained in them change in the digestive process into substances that can be a source of bad smell. In turn, spicy foods expand both types of sweat glands, and thus contribute to the release of more sweat.

However, the bad skin smell is caused not only by WHAT we eat, but also HOW we eat. If we eat unhealthy and absorb too much food in a short time, our sweat produces an unpleasant odor faster. An unpleasant skin smell may also appear as a result of improper metabolism of some products.

How does sweat affect the smell of the skin?

The smell of sweat greatly depends on your daily diet. Sweat secreted by the sweat glands is odorless. Only the processes occurring on the surface of the skin decide about the formation of an unpleasant or neutral odor.

The smell of sweat is the result of the activity of microorganisms on the skin. They contribute to the breakdown of fats, sugars and proteins and other substances secreted by some sweat glands, sometimes giving a very unpleasant smell. Therefore, the smell of sweat depends, among others from what foods we supply to the body, and hence – what products of metabolism will be excreted with sweat.

There are two types of sweat glands: ecrine and apocrine. These glands differ in their location, the type of sweat they produce, the way they are released onto the skin’s surface, and the function they perform. Secreted sweat, both ecrin and apocrine, is odorless. Some components of sweat and the skin’s microorganisms that feed on them are responsible for the bad smell.

Eccrine sweat glands and the smell of sweat

Ecrine glands occur on the entire body surface (except for the mouth) in numbers from 2 to 5 million. The ecrine glands are mainly responsible for the body’s thermoregulation process (they keep the body temperature below 37 degrees Celsius), and thus – protect the body from overheating.

When the body heats up, neurons located in the hypothalamus send a signal to the screening glands to increase sweat production. Sweat evaporating from the skin surface receives heat from the body, thereby regulating body temperature. In addition, sweat secreted by the ecrine glands is a component of the water-lipid coat and is responsible for maintaining the proper pH level of the skin, thus providing protection against microorganisms and enabling the proper functioning of the epidermal barrier.

Eccrine sweat is a colorless and odorless liquid, which is about 98 percent water. The other 2 percent are sodium chloride physiological solution, urea, ammonia and minerals such as iron, magnesium and potassium. It is not a bacterial “nutrient”, therefore, ecrine sweat is not a good medium for the development of microorganisms and does not create an unpleasant odor.

How to deal with excess sweat?

Apocrine glands and their effect on the smell of sweat

Apocrine glands (tubular sweat glands) develop only during puberty. They drain into the hair follicles and mainly occur in the axillary region, as well as around the genitals and anus, on the areola of the nipples, in the ear canals (earwax glands) and on the eyelids (Molla glands).

Apocrine glands do not participate in the process of thermoregulation, but are responsible for supporting the body’s detoxification process, i.e. removing metabolic products outside the body. The compounds present in apocrine sweat participate in the processes occurring on the skin surface and determine the formation of an odor.

Apocrine sweat consists mainly of water, lipids (fats), proteins and organic acids, as well as urea and lactic acid. Depending on what you eat, sweat ingredients can also be other chemicals, such as non-degradable phosphates and sulfates.

In addition, sweat may also contain acetic, butyric, valerian, caproic and caprylic acid as well as ethyl alcohol and acetone. Therefore, apocrine sweat is a “medium” for microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi that are found on the surface of the skin. Sweat components are broken down by bacteria, resulting in the release of substances with a strong and unpleasant odor, including isovaleric acid and steroid compounds (mainly androstenol).

Therefore, regular washing is enough to wash sweat from the skin surface, which is a “nutrient” for bacteria, and prevent the formation of an unpleasant odor. However, if some foods are the cause of the odor, the daily diet should be arranged to eliminate substances that are “food” for microorganisms.

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