Fixing bad breath after a meal is relatively easy: Just pop a mint, use mouthwash, or better yet, floss and brush your teeth. When it comes to stopping stinky sweat, though, science hasn’t produced a whole lot of definitive evidence for odour-neutralising foods. Many people sweat profusely at all times for absolutely no reason. But what causes persistent body odour, the kind that seems like it just won’t go away? You’re eating foods or drinking beverages that cause the body to produce strong odours.
You’ve probably noticed you’re a bit more stinky after a night of heavy drinking, and that’s normal.
“Alcohol can cause bodies to produce malodorous sweat. Other things you consume can cause this to happen, too, even when those foods are good for you. Garlic, onions,egg, and cruciferous vegetables — such as broccoli and cauliflower — can cause odour,” Dr Anupam Dey, a Kolkata-based dietician says.
So, if you are eating high levels of certain foods, foul-smelling compounds they contain may be excreted through your sweat glands to give an unpleasant odour. To minimise body odour watch out for these odour-inducing foods and drinks.
Happy hour might have some not-so-pleasant effects on your smell. Here’s what happens: When your tequila shots are absorbed into your body, the alcohol gets metabolised into acetate or acetic acid and this can be secreted into your sweat. When that acidic sweat is metabolised by skin bacteria, it can leave you with that signature “I went out last night” scent.
Broccoli, cauliflower, and the rest of the cruciferous vegetable, as well as eggs, and milk, can be odour offenders. They contain sulphur, a stinky compound that smells like rotten eggs. Eating them may increase the availability of sulphur to skin bacteria, allowing them to make more sulphur-containing compounds, meaning you may start producing that rotten smell.
Foods such as garlic and onions can give you what Dr Dey calls “garlic sweat” due to the high concentration of Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) they contain. Like your cabbage and cauliflower, these foods also typically contain sulphur. In other words, not only can a spicy garlic subzi make your breath stink, the smell can seep out of your pores too.
Fish certainly carry their own pungent aroma, at least when they’re out of the water. But can they alter body odour in humans? Apparently so, at least in people who have a genetic disorder called trimethylaminuria, body’s inability to break down a foul-smelling compound. Eating fish cause an all-over fish smell in people who have the genetic condition.
Meat is also on the list of smell-inducing, sulphur-rich foods. Findings from a study published in the journal Chemical Senses also suggest that eating meat might be affecting your sweat. In this small study, researchers put a group of 17 men on meat or no-meat diets for two weeks and collected their underarm sweat. The sweat from those on the vegetarian diet was judged by a group of women to be significantly less pungent. The researchers theorised that fatty acids in meat may find their way into sweat, making it more stinky.