Beating stubborn body odor


When you find out the cause of your body odor, you can finally say “good riddance” to it, and “hello to freedom from odor embarrassment.” Photo credit: Llima Orosa, Creative Commons

By pH health care professionals

You bathe every day and wear deodorant, but you still can’t help feeling a little self-conscious. “Is that smell coming from me?!” Instead of just trying to find new ways to cover the bad odor, take a look at some of the potential reasons for it. There may be an underlying health condition you weren’t aware of.

So how does body odor occur?

Well, a little biology to start. Body odor generally comes from sweat.  You have two kinds of sweat glands – eccrine (mostly water and salt) and apocrine (thicker, more milky secretions containing protein and fatty acids). The bad smell comes from your apocrine sweat, which bacteria love to feast on. Apocrine glands are located in the underarms, groin, hands and feet – which is why you may notice more body odor from these areas.

While having apocrine glands is a normal part of post-puberty life, if body odor is interrupting your daily life, there may be an underlying cause. Read on for some of the possible reasons for your body odor:

What are some of the underlying health conditions that can create bad odor?

  • Metabolic disorder. One-third of people with unexplained body odor may actually have an inherited metabolic disorder, a new study finds. This disorder, called trimethylaminuria (TMAU), impairs your body’s ability to break down a pungent-smelling compound called trimethylamine (TMA) found in choline-rich foods such as organ meats, eggs, certain legumes and saltwater fish.
  • Hormones. Body odor can also be caused by hormonal fluctuations such as those seen in children going through puberty, women during menopause or people experiencing extreme mental or physical stress.
  • Diabetes. Sometimes body odor is a sign of serious illness like diabetes. This is particularly true when a person’s blood sugar levels are poorly controlled.
  • Kidney or liver disease. Body odor can also be a sign of a serious liver or kidney disease where the body is incapable of processing and removing certain toxins due to the diseased organ. These conditions can be ruled out by blood tests which measure kidney and liver function.
  • Thyroid problems. Occasionally, an overactive thyroid can also cause body odor. This is because the patient tends to sweat excessively due to the hyper-functioning thyroid gland. This condition can also be ruled out by physical examination and blood studies.

Can the food you eat also cause body odor?

A lot of people believe that spicy foods or curry-flavored dishes can produce strange body odors. However, this theory is still being debated. But organic chemist George Preti, of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, says it’s not impossible. “Components in a lot of aromatic spicing are very fat soluble,” he told Fox News. “So they’ll get stored in your body fat and get into your sweat and saliva and they’ll influence body odor over time.”

Sometimes it may seem like certain foods are triggering body odor when, in reality, it’s breath odor being mistaken for body odor. For example, if you eat a dinner with a lot of garlic in it, it will linger in the breath for 48 hours. Some people may have difficulty distinguishing where the smell is coming from.

However, red meat, junk food and fast food can cause body odor. These foods may cause stagnation in the body and decay in the digestive tract. When this happens, all sorts of toxins are released into the blood stream and can lead to body odor. 

Are there foods that will prevent body odor?

All vegetables, especially deep green vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, chard and wheat grass can help prevent body odor. Fruit juices and vegetable juices can also help.

Drinking a lot of water can also improve body odor issues. Try adding lemon to your water, which helps to detoxify the body.

Does stress cause body odor?

When people are stressed, they produce more apocrine sweat and secretions from their armpits, causing an increase in body odor that may be perceptible to others.

Can you test for an underlying cause?

Finding the underlying cause of your health concerns is our specialty at Proactive Health Labs. Find out the root cause of your body odor. Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.

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