Diet & Sweat: What You Need to Know

How diet can impact your sweat
As it turns out, there are specific foods, drinks, and vitamins (yep, even vitamins) that can make your sweat smell different than what you’re used to. It shouldn’t be too surprising that what we eat and drink impacts the way our sweat smells, but there are some foods that are notorious for making people smell… interesting.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a list of things to avoid, just consider whether or not you want to eat (or drink) a bunch of it before a big date, presentation, or long flight. No one wants to be the smelly person on the plane, am I right?

7 things that can change the way your sweat smells:

  1. Cruciferous vegetables: Veggies like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower contain sulfur which can give off that rotten egg smell. This means that when your body is breaking down these vegetables, it can give your sweat a sulphuric smell. Not ideal. But fear not, cruciferous lovers! You can minimize the effect by parboiling these vegetables in water seasoned with a pinch of sea salt.
  2. Red meat: Red meat is harder to digest than other foods, so your body has to work harder to process it. Because of this, your body might start secreting more perspiration (hello, meat sweats) giving the bacteria more to break down, causing a higher potential to smell.
  3. Alcohol: We’ve most likely all had those moments where we swear we’re sweating whiskey… right? Turns out, when alcohol is absorbed in your body, it gets metabolized into acetate or acetic acid. When that acidic sweat is processed by the bacteria, it can leave you with that oh so lovely booze perfume.
  4. Fish: Some fish, like tuna and salmon, have choline (a member of the B-complex vitamin family) which can deliver a fishy smell in your sweat. Again, not worth skipping your next planned sushi outing over, but something to note if your BO starts to smell like the spicy tuna roll from the night before.
  5. Processed foods: I mean… are we surprised? Processed foods are never going to do anything good for us. Because most of these foods contain lots of refined sugar, it’s thought that the sugar can change the makeup of perspiration, making things smell different.
  6. Low-carb diets: Cut out the carbs and your body will start to burn fat. And while you will most likely lose weight, it might also change the way your sweat smells. When you burn fat, your body produces a chemical that can make your sweat smell either like nail polish remover or slightly fruity. Keeping your fingers crossed you’ll be one of the fruity ones? Like most things, it’s dependent on the person’s body chemistry.
  7. Vitamins: Remember #4? Turns out that if you take too many B-vitamins, you can also end up with fishy smelling sweat. So if you’re taking vitamins and start to notice a new smell—an excess of B-vitamins could be the culprit.
Now you know—diet can cause shifts in how you smell. So, if you start noticing a different smell, don’t panic. Just think about what you’ve been eating and consider whether or not your diet could have caused the change. One last fun fact to leave you with: A study published in the Journal Chemical Senses in 2016 found that people who followed a vegetarian diet had sweat that was, “more attractive, more pleasant, and less intense.” Three cheers to vegetarians and their sweet smelling sweat.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.