All of us have our own “odor signature,” largely determined by genetics, overall health and, of course, personal hygiene. But what we eat can also play a role—which is why researchers who do studies on human body odors routinely tell their subjects to avoid foods thought to affect the results.
If you have good hygiene but find that you have an unpleasant odor (or other people tell you so), you might see if anything in your diet is contributing. Research on how foods affect body odor is limited, but here’s what we know about certain kinds of foods.
Although many people think that sweat is the main cause of body odor, the truth is that many types of germs, dirt and the combination of certain foods in your diet can all be participants.
This last component can alter your body’s pH causing excess acidity levels that make it hard to eliminate toxins, leading to a bad smell.
There’s no question about the health benefits of consuming fish.
Years of research have shown that omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish oil, are essential for brain function and play a key role in reducing one’s risk of heart disease. Two fish-based meals a week has become a commonly accepted guideline. But choline, a member of the B-complex vitamin family that is found amply in fish like tuna and salmon, delivers a natural fishy smell.
Some people, Kallel says, may secrete choline in their sweat for up to a day after eating a serving of fish, potentially producing a strong body odor.
2. Refined sugars
Candy chews and any type of food that’s made with refined sugar can cause changes in the body’s acidity levels, alter its temperature, and generate unpleasant body odor.
Bacteria feed on sweets, so thanks to its excessive growth you also see accelerated fermentation and a stronger smell.
3. Broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower
The issue with these cruciferous vegetables is their sulfur, which your body breaks down into compounds that are actually similar to those responsible for the smell of rancid butter. These compounds are absorbed into the body and secreted in sweat.
Your body odor can change for the worse as early as one hour after consuming these vegetables, he says. The scent associated with one serving should dissipate within six hours.
Pates, sausage, bacon, and other cured pork products can increase your stomach’s acidity levels and cause gas.
They are very slowly broken down in your digestive system, and thanks to their high content of fat and chemicals they disrupt your metabolic functions that eliminate toxins.
Alcohol passes through your blood. Then, it “leaves” through your pores and breath. This is the reason that your breath will be frightful. And at the same time, you’ll give off a telltale smell from your evening plans.
The aromatic spices in curry, like cumin, are great for giving your food a different flavor. However, they also turn into an enemy to your personal hygiene.
There are plenty of people who prefer to avoid eating garlic because the strong smell tends to linger on the breath for hours.
In addition to that, however, the volatile sulfur compounds in garlic can cause your sweat to smell bad. This substance is absorbed by your lungs and into the bloodstream after digestion is complete, which makes your breath and skin take on that signature odor.
8. Red meat
The amino acids in red meat leave a residue in your intestines during digestion. Intestinal enzymes break down that residue, which then mixes with bacteria on your skin during perspiration and intensifies your odor. It’s an effect that’s hard to avoid: Since meat is harder to digest than other foods, Kallel says, your body has to work harder to process it. “As a result,” he says, “your sweat glands may respond by secreting more perspiration.”
Being aware of the timing of your amplified aroma is the best way to try to manage it. “The bacteria need a couple of hours to ramp up to their most odiferous point,” Kallel says. “You can smell worse within two hours of eating red meat.” Depending on your personal body chemistry, the change in the scent of your sweat brought on by meat consumption can be minimal or can linger for a few hours up to as long as two weeks.
Spices like curry and cumin tend to cause bad breath as well as body odor because when you consume them, the sulfurous gases that you digest are then eliminated through your pores.
Although most of the time they are properly assimilated by the body, others remain in your bloodstream to be released later on.
This may be is the reason you have bad body odor despite bathing or changing clothes. Caffeine stimulates your sweat glands and increases your perspiration.