Sweet Sweat: What Our Sweat Reveals About Us
Many scenarios can make us sweat, from illnesses to anxiety, to hormones, stress, and spicy food
As embarrassing and uncomfortable as this biological response is at times, there are tons of reasons why it’s necessary. By learning how to decode when we sweat, how much we sweat, and even what our sweat smells like, we can more closely sensor our health.
But first, what if we never sweat?
Evolutionarily speaking, we would be in last place. You see, humans have evolved to be the best runners on the planet. We may not be the fastest, but we do have the most endurance, thanks to all the 2-4 million sweat glands in each of our bodies. While running, our sweat glands work simultaneously to keep us cool. Because sweat functions to regulate body temperature, it makes sense that we sweat any time our temperature rises.
Why do we sweat as an emotional response?
When we feel fearful, anxious, or stressed, our sympathetic nervous system triggers the fight or flight response. When this occurs, our body temperatures rise as we experience a rush of hormones and adrenaline. Additionally, brain scans reveal that when we smell another person’s panic-induced sweat, the portions of our brains that manage emotional response and social signals also light up. In other words, sweat keeps us sharp and helps us stay aware of potential risks in our surroundings.
What can the smell of our sweat tell us about our health?
The body has two different types of sweat glands: apocrine glands and eccrine glands. Eccrine glands are responsible for regulating temperature, whereas apocrine glands secrete a mixture of fat, protein, and bacteria and are activated by stress levels. Activated apocrine glands indicate that the body is enduring chronic stress- such as poor diet, anxiety, and even the flu. Interestingly, this is considered a natural defense mechanism to keep others away and minimize the spread of disease.
How else do we benefit from breaking a sweat?
#1. Sweat detoxifies the body from heavy metals and endocrine disruptors.
While studying individuals exposed to heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury, scientists found that the body more heavily excretes toxic substances through sweat as opposed to urine. In another study, BPA was excreted through sweat alone, indicating that sweat is a critical defense for fighting off toxins, many of which are closely related to cancers.
#2. Sweat promotes healthier, more glowy skin.
It’s a common myth that sweating leads to breakouts. In truth, acne breakouts occur when we fail to shower after sweating. Sweating improves skin cell turnover and acts as a prebiotic that encourages healthy skin bacteria. The real reason we break out after exercising is that all that nasty stuff we sweat away remains on top of our skin until we shower.
#3. Sweat helps stave away sickness and infection.
Did you know that sweating can decrease our chances of catching the flu by one-third? Sweat contains antimicrobial properties that help fight off such bacteria and viruses as E.Coli and HIV. Research shows that visiting the sauna is an effective way to alleviate and prevent many common acute and chronic illnesses. That said, if you have high blood pressure or heart disease, you must consult with a physician before setting foot in a sauna.
#4. Sweat is our hormone’s best friend.
Hormones aren’t always a bad thing, you know. When we sweat, we boost growth hormone production, which helps the body repair itself and heightens metabolic function so that we can lose more weight faster. Sweating also ups our body’s parasympathetic response and happy hormones, owing to that feeling of blissful relaxation after a great workout.
#5. Sweat decreases our risk of dementia substantially.
As mentioned before, sweating detoxifies the body from toxic substances like heavy metals, which are closely linked to Alzheimer’s disease. A study of Finnish men performed in 2016 found that men who used a sauna 4-7 times a week over the course of 20 years were 66% less likely to develop dementia. Men who bathed in the sauna most also demonstrated significantly lower rates of cardiac death and coronary artery disease.
Now that you know why we sweat, it’s time to find out where to sweat in Williamson County!