By Vanessa Grant
Friends, free time and fabulous weather – all great things summer brings. But with warm weather comes sweating, which stinks – literally.
WHY WE SWEAT
Whether you’re clammy because it’s hot out, or you’ve been exercising, or your crush just walked by, the source is the same. Though you may not feel so cool with sweat dripping down your back, the part of your brain that controls body temperature, called the hypothalamus, is trying to keep you cool. When you heat up past 37°C (98.6°F) your brain tells your body to release that extra heat by sweating. When sweat hits the air, it evaporates, cooling you down.
WHY WE SMELL
The not-so-fabulous part about this incredible airconditioning system is the accompanying scent. Sweat on its own doesn’t smell; it’s basically salt water. But when combined with the bacteria on your skin, watch out! Also, once you hit puberty, your apocrine glands – found in your armpits and genital area – start producing the real stinky stuff. Ah, the joys of adulthood.
WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT
The obvious answer to beating body odour is bathing. Keeping clean not only gets rid of the offending scent, it also prevents it. Deodorants, which only mask your natural musk, and anti-perspirants, which make the pores in your armpits swell up so they can’t release sweat, are also pleasant scent protectors.
7 TIPS TO BEAT B.O.
1) Use vinegar instead of, or along with deodorant – but make sure there aren’t any funky smell side effects. Vinegar lowers the pH level of your skin so bacteria can’t grow there. Cornstarch or baking soda – or a lethal combination of both – will not only prevent odour like it does in your fridge but will also kill any scent-causing bacteria.
2) Chowing down on parsley, alfalfa and other leafy greens prevents both bad breath and putrid armpits. The chlorophyll (thank you science class) in these plants has a deodorizing effect that works from the inside out.
3) Drink sage tea. It will actually reduce sweat gland activity so you don’t need to worry so much about the resulting odours.
4) Sometimes a zinc deficiency can cause bad body odour, so talk to your doctor about taking a supplement or changing your diet to include yummy foods like prunes, cucumbers and Brussels sprouts. Okay, so they’re not so appetizing, but without them, neither are you!
5) Stay away from hot beverages – especially those with caffeine – and stinky foods like garlic and onions.
6) Eating less meat is also a good idea if you’re particularly sweaty. Those barbecue treats take a long time to make their way through your system and begin to decay during digestion. No wonder you smell after a hamburger!
7) Finally, if you think you sweat more than others, contact your doctor.
➡ The average person has 2.6 million sweat glands.
➡ Each foot has more than 250,000 sweat glands!
➡ There are sweat glands all over your body, except your lips, nipples and external naughty bits.
➡ The lining of your outer ear has modified sweat glands that produce earwax.
➡ Humans can produce up to three litres of sweat in one hour.
➡ Sweating makes you sexy. When you sweat, you produce pheromones that, some say, attract the opposite sex.
➡ For the ladies: menstruation makes you sweaty. You sweat more at that time of the month. The pheromones you produce when you sweat can also affect your friends’ periods and synchronize their cycles with yours.
Illustration by Samuel Buensuceso