Skip to content

    Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Can What You Eat Make You Sweat?

    By
    WebMD Feature
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    Sometimes I dread going out for Italian food.

    Don't get me wrong. Italian ranks among my absolute favorite cuisines. It's just that every time my husband and I go out for Italian, the overpowering aroma of "eau de garlic" follows him around for days. The scent is strong enough to withstand hot showers, extra-strength mouthwash -- even cologne.

    Recommended Related to Skin Problems & Treatments

    Expert Q and A: Dealing With Rosacea

    If you're embarrassed by the redness, flushing, and prominent blood vessels that characterize rosacea, you're not alone. An estimated 14 million Americans, mainly fair-skinned, blue-eyed, blonde men and women between the ages of 30 and 50, suffer from the chronic skin disorder. And nearly three-fourths say that the condition lowers their self-esteem and self-confidence, says Jenny J. Kim, MD, PhD, associate professor of dermatology at the University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School...

    Read the Expert Q and A: Dealing With Rosacea article > >

    My husband's affliction made me wonder: Why do the smells of certain foods stick with us more than others? And why do some foods make us sweat more?

    Two experts shared their insights on why some of the most delicious foods cause us to sweat -- and why some produce unappetizing aromas.

    Why Some Foods Make You Sweat

    Bite into a nuclear hot wing and see how long it takes for those little beads of sweat to pop up on your forehead. The heat you're feeling comes from capsaicin -- a chemical found in the hot peppers used to make your wings.

    Capsaicin stimulates nerve receptors in your mouth and essentially "tricks" your nervous system into thinking you're hot. Your body acts much like it does when you're outside in 90-degree heat. Your internal thermostat -- the hypothalamus in your brain -- sends out a signal to activate your sweat glands. Sweat reaches your skin and evaporates, taking the heat from your body with it.

    Foods that are hot temperature-wise can also make you sweat. "Hot coffee, hot tea, and hot soups can sometimes make people sweat, even though their whole core body temperature isn't hot," says Dee Anna Glaser, MD, professor of dermatology at St. Louis University School of Medicine.

    You Eat, Therefore You Smell

    The B.O.-inducing culprits in certain aromatic foods are volatile organic compounds that are released as the body metabolizes these foods, says George Preti, PhD, an organic chemist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.

    These compounds make their way into your bloodstream and eventually find a route out of your body. "They come out in your urine, your breath, and your sweat," Preti says.

    Why these food compounds make some people smell and not others might have to do with a number of different factors, including how much of the offending substance you eat, the metabolic enzymes in your saliva that break foods down, or your genes, Preti says.

    1 | 2 | 3

    Today on WebMD

    chafing
    Pictures and symptoms of the red, scaly rash.
    woman with dyed dark hair
    What it says about your health.
     
    woman with cleaning products
    Top causes of the itch that rashes.
    atopic dermatitus
    Identify and treat common skin problems.
     
    itchy skin
    Article
    shingles rash on skin
    Article
     
    woman with skin tag
    Quiz
    Woman washing face
    Video
     
    woman washing her hair in sink
    Video
    close up of womans bare neck
    Tools
     
    Feet
    Slideshow
    woman with face cream
    Quiz