A lot of people hate sweating and will avoid intense workouts so that they don’t have to deal with the damp. However, sweating is incredibly healthy and detoxifying, and a sign that our bodies are working properly, and we should really embrace a good glisten, often.
And by often, we mean ideally we’d break a little shine once a day, but a good sweaty workout three times a week will suffice. That’s because of the cardiac benefits, of course, but it also helps our bodies to purge toxins like heavy metals— think arsenic, lead, and mercury.
Sure, sweating may require we shower after our workout, but if shampooing the hair is the biggest concern, opt for just rinsing locks with cool water in between washes, or go the dry shampoo route to preserve style.
When it comes to sweating, there’s no shame from our end. In fact, it’s a little sexy. Though, we know there are those most concerned with body odor when it comes to our sweat. It’s interesting how we can smell some people’s BO more than others, and some we can’t smell at all!
It’s actually true that a select lucky few people (about 2% of the general population, to be exact) carry a rare version of the ABCC11 gene that prevents armpits from emitting an offensive—or even detectable—odor. The remaining 98% of us are definitely detecting something.
Sometimes, we even like the way others smell. This has to do with pheromones and the biology behind human attraction. Some of us are, without question, attracted to someone else’s personal, unique scent given off by pheromones. Others tend to be more forgiving of our lover’s personal scent, as it is uniquely theirs and that makes it special. One scientific theory is that it’s not just about pheromonal attraction, but that the pheromones reveal details about the person in question’s immune system.
We have sensory neurons in our olfactory system that are used to detect pheromones. These sensory neurons pick up on MHC molecules. MHC molecules help decipher self-antigens from non-self-antigens, aka toxins or foreign substances.
To put it simply, subconsciously, our olfactory systems can play a role in selecting who has not only a strong immune system, but one that is strong in a way that is different enough from ours. Biologically, we want that so that the possible babies we produce with said person will have the best of both immune systems. Hot.
But before we forego deodorant altogether and flash our pits at all eligible people in our vicinity, there is some truth to the fact that we can have truly sour body odor that won’t attract anyone—in fact, it might repel all people within a 5-foot radius. Factors that can spice up our BO more than usual include poor diet, lack of exercise, dehydration, stress, infections, and hormonal changes like erratic blood sugar drops, menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause. There are a few things we can do to be in control of how intense our personal stank, well, stinks.
While it should go without saying that showering will make you smell fresher if you’re not comfortable with your body odor, it’s worth noting that a lot of the “ick” factor that accompanies bad BO is from bacteria. The bacteria on the surface of our skin mingling with the pheromones and toxins in our sweat is the main culprit for really rank BO.
Because we lose a lot of electrolytes and salts when we sweat, rehydrating properly by having spring water and an appropriate amount of sodium, eating hydrating fruits and veggies like bell peppers, berries, apples, and cucumbers, and adding electrolytes to our water will help keep us hydrated and thus not purging the body of all its last reserves.
The pH levels of our armpits are significantly higher than the rest of the body. A high pH is much more reactive with bacteria, causing a more offensive odor. Therefore, using a deodorant that balances this unique microbiome’s acidity can prevent the growth of several microorganisms that contribute to stinky pits, and while we’ll still get a healthy sweat, we will smell much milder.
Studies show that consuming chlorophyll can reduce the smelly factor in body odor. It’s important to eat enough leafy greens, but a chlorophyll tablet or liquid added to water is the best way to get a concentrated dose for this purpose.
Junk food, alcohol, and red meat are all culprits of smellier sweat, so cut back on those and replace them with fresh fruits, veggies, leaner proteins, and whole foods to keep things a little fresher. Certain spices can have a very pungent effect on our body odor as well, so keep in mind that some cuisines might make us smell very similar to the dish we just ate. Fennel and fenugreek are great digestive spices, but they can make sweat smell strongly of licorice or, strangely, maple syrup. Which is cool if you’re into that sort of thing.
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