8 Foods That Could Make Your Body Odor Worse
Experts explain how your diet might contribute to your stench
No matter how hard you try to fight body odor, that putrid-smelling prespiration always seems to leave you drenched in stench at the worst possible moment. No one likes to stink — but everyone deals with it. When it comes to B.O., stress, your grooming routine, and certain health problems can all make an impact.
Even the food you eat might play a role, explains George Preti, Ph.D, an organic chemist who studies body odor at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, but scientists are still trying to figure out how your diet contributes to your stench.
That’s because “body odor is a relatively complex situation,” says David Pariser, M.D., a dermatologist at Pariser Dermatology.
Your body has two types of sweat glands, he explains. Eccrine glands produce the relatively stink-free watery sweat that covers your body after a tough workout. Apocrine glands, on the other hand, live in your underarms and groin, where they secrete oily substances that account for most of your body odor.
Those glands are likely responsible for the link between your diet and your B.O. Still, there’s little concrete research exploring the connection, and even after a particuarly smelly meal, it’s difficult to tell what causes any specific body odor and where it’s coming from.
In fact, your body creates two naturally-occuring odors that happen to smell like food — sweaty onion and spicy cumin — even though they aren’t necessarily caused by eating.
“We don’t know if these types of odors are transmitted into the underarm secretions from food, but we do know that most of the people walking around the planet have the ability to produce these odors in their underarm,” Preti says.
Your diet will likely have a small effect, if any, on your B.O. Still, there are specific foods that have the ability to affect certain people, says Dr. Pariser. Here are a few to watch out for.
Nina is a health and culture reporter who has written for SELF, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, the New York Times, and more. She loves vegetable gardening, crossword puzzles, and her beloved mystery mutt.
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