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10 Surprising Things You Never Knew About Body Odor

by Style Team
31 Jul 2017 | 2:10 PM

Everyone reeks a little bit from time to time, especially with the kind of hot weather be it in the metro or the province. And of course, it worries us. Who hasn't looked at or took a sniff of their underarms before going out in public or meeting someone?

Too much sweat and the smell that comes with it are gross, but hey, it happens to all of us. As the temperature heats up, you're more likely to stink up your sando or your gym clothes even without doing physical activities.

Before that happens, let's get to know more about sweat and the BO that comes with it. You'd be surprised to know the two don't often go hand in hand.

1. Sweat Comes from Two Glands

We have two sweat glands: the apocrine and eccrine glands. The eccrine glands produce watery sweat to keep us cool and are all over the body. The apocrine glands, meanwhile, are in areas where hair follicles are more concentrated (armpit, groin, and scalp) and produce sweat that's waxier and fattier due to the lipids they secrete.


2. Sweat it just Sweat

Eccrine sweat is mostly water and does very little in causing body odor. Apocrine sweat, while thicker and fattier, also does not create the odor, but bacteria.

Certain types of bacteria are attracted to apocrine sweat. Once the microbes break down the fats in the sweat, the fresh-from-the-gym stench happens. The more hair you have, the more surface area the microorganisms have to cling to, which often results to a more pungent smell.

3. It Could Indicate Health Problems

Body odor isn't always as smelly as used gym socks. In certain people, their stench could indicate a health problem. People whose sweat smells like bleach, for example, could have problems with their kidneys or liver, while those with a fruity smell may have diabetes or blood sugar problems.

In rare cases, a genetic disorder called trimethylaminuria can make you produce body odor similar to that of rotten or decaying fish. The condition is more commonly known as Fish Odor Syndrome.

4. It Tells You What You Had for Lunch

Curry, garlic, onions, chilies, and food with strong, bold flavors can instigate body odor that can make you smell even worse.

These foods contain compounds that can linger in our sweat. If you ate a large amount of these strong foods, the odor may persist up to 24 hours after eating them.

5. Stick or Roll-On Helps a Lot

Especially when we can't give up spicy and rich food, our best line of defense is that small roll-on or stick of deodorant. Some people fail to realize it, but antiperspirants and deodorants are two different substances.

A deodorant masks or counteracts the natural smell of sweat, while antiperspirants works the glands to control (if not stop you from) sweating. Some products are just antiperspirants, some just deodorants, while others are both.

6. It Needs Just the Right Cleaning

Using antibacterial soap and scrubbing away at your BO hot spots can definitely help control the odor problem, but don't overdo it. Using rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizers on those areas dries out the skin. The body fights back by overcompensating and producing more perspiration.

7. It's a Turn-on for Women

Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley found that a compound in men's sweat can cause a number of emotional and psychological changes in women. The chemical androstadienone found in male sweat can affect the ladies' menstrual cycle and boost the release of their luteinizing hormone, which has an important role in stimulating ovulation.

The smell of our armpits can also activate certain brain areas for the ladies, which can improve their mood and turn them on.

8. Asians are a Step Ahead Other Races

At least when it comes to sweating. Caucasians and Africans generally sweat more than Asians, and thus produce more body odor. This is because they tend to have more hair follicles.

It also comes down to genes, particularly the ABCC11 gene, which determines axillary body odor, among other things. Those with a non-functional ABCC11 gene produce little or no body odor at all. The non-functional gene is predominant among East Asians (and almost all Koreans).

9. It's as Unique as Your Fingerprint

No matter what we eat, our bodies produce a distinct odor, called odortypes. Our odortypes act like an olfactory nametag that helps distinguish us from one another and are determined in part by our genes, which makes them unique per individual.

The odortype information is transmitted through body fluids, including urine and sweat.

10. Kids have it Easy

The term 'baby fresh' likely originated from the fact that kids do not stink. Smelly armpits only become a problem for them until they hit puberty, when their androgen hormones activate sweat glands, which lead to the production of body odor.

If there's any smell, it's almost always from the bacteria on their clothes or those they picked up from playing.

Sweat and body odor are things we guys (and the ladies) easily notice. Be sure you're protected against these hassles by keeping clean and fresh all day, every day.