Body odour - or 'BO' as it is generally referred to - can be a persistent nuisance for many people and cause social embarrassment. Some degree of body odour is normal, however if you have excessive or 'offensive' BO, it could indicate an underlying health issue, such as an unhealthy gut, or it could be due to the foods in your diet. We explain common causes of BO and the best foods for eliminating body odour.
Sudden change in BO
A sudden change in your odour is something that needs to be checked out.
You will probably notice a different smell coming from your armpits, groin, feet or mouth. This sudden change will usually be accompanied by itching, discharge, a rash or soreness, and is usually an indication of an infection. Make sure any sudden changes in BO along with these symptoms are checkout and treated.
Common causes of Body Odour
During periods of stress, the body releases the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones activate the sweat glands, and they trigger a 'fatty sweat'. Bacteria thrives on this type of fatty sweat, and because the gut bacteria metabolise the sweat, it produces a stronger odour than other sweat.
Learn more in our article 'What is cortisol?'.
Create your free Diet Profile today to understand the nutrients in your diet.
It goes without saying that if we don’t wash, we will smell. The sweat you produce daily is metabolised by bacteria, and if it is not washed off frequently, more bacteria will be present to release an unpleasant odour.
How foods cause body odour
Some people struggle to metabolise certain foods and breakdown odour-causing substances. Foods which can be difficult for some people to breakdown include asparagus, garlic and fenugreek, so you may want to limit your intake of these.
Some people have a problem in breaking down 'TMA', which is a 'metabolite' and an end-product of your gut bacteria digesting nutrients such as choline, carnitine and lecithin, which are abundant in animal foods including red meat, egg yolk and full fat dairy products. TMA is transported to your liver where it is converted to TMAO, however if you have difficulty breaking it down, TMA can cause an unpleasant fish smelling odour. Discover the benefits of Choline and where to find it.
If you do have a strong-smelling fishy odour from anywhere in your body, getting a diagnosis is important so the condition can be managed.
Discover our comprehensive Daily Multi-Vitamin today
Too much alcohol
Individuals who drink a lot of alcohol have less probiotics in their gut and mouth. This allows bad bacteria to thrive which produces a horrible smell. When alcohol is consumed, the body also produces 'acetate', which causes an unpleasant odour. Learn more in '5 signs your liver needs a detox'.
Tips for reducing Body Odour
If there is a part of your body that is particularly smelly such as your groin, armpits or feet, make sure you wash these several times a day to clear away the bacteria that is causing the smell.
Wiping your armpits when you visit the bathroom or cleaning your groin with water after using the bathroom are all excellent practices to make a habit if these are problem areas.
Change your clothes
Changing your clothes daily helps to reduce the level of odour-causing bacteria on your skin and avoids having any trapped odours in your clothes.
Regular meditation is useful for helping your body deal with stressful situations, and therefore will help you to sweat less.
Wear natural fabrics
Fabrics such as cotton or bamboo allow the skin to air better than synthetic fabrics, reducing the rate of sweating.
Best foods for reducing Body Odour
Fibre rich food
Chlorophyl rich foods
Green herbs and dark green leafy vegetables are rich in chlorophyl. Chlorophyl reduces body odour, as well as the smell of any gas you might pass. Learn more in 'What does your poo say about your health'.
Fermented foods are rich in probiotics which help to carry toxins out of the gut and prevents them from being released through the skin. Probiotic rich foods include yoghurt (including plant-based yoghurts), sauerkraut, kefir (including water & juice kefir) and tempeh. Learn more in 'What are probiotics'.
Foods to avoid for body odour
Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage
Foods rich in sulphur do not fare well for some people. Foods such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are rich in sulphur, a compound that smells like rotten eggs, which can be released from your sweat glands, giving you an unpleasant odour. You shouldn’t remove these foods completely as they are very healthy for the body, but you could reduce your intake.
Onions and Garlic
Onions and garlic are well known to cause a stench. Eat too much, and the smell is excreted through sweat and from the lungs. It doesn’t matter how much you brush your teeth or how good your mouth wash is, it is still going to come from your lungs and skin. These are healthy foods though, and great for the gut and blood, but moderation is the key. Garlic is one of the top 6 foods for boosting your immune system.
Low carbohydrate diets
When the body runs out of carbohydrates, it starts to burn its fat stores in a process called 'ketosis'. This process gives off 'acetone' which smells a little like pear drops. Unless you are consuming low-carb foods for a specific reason, foods with carbohydrates such as beans, lentils and sweet potatoes can actually be very good for you and your body odour. Discover the best carbs for plant-based meals.
Spices used in cooking can be problematic for body odour. Fenugreek and other spices used in curry can be excreted through the skin. Consuming excess chill can also trigger sweating.
Important vitamins for Body Odour
Discover our gut health probiotic formula Gut Works today
Probiotics aid with the breakdown of food and food compound in the gut, which decreases the chances that these compounds will be pushed through the skin. Probiotics also promote normal bowel movements, ensuring the body can excrete toxins through bowel movements and not through the skin.
Herbs that encourage the release of digestive juices such as milk thistle, fennel, artichoke and dandelion are excellent for reducing odour. Properly broken-down foods are carried out of the body efficiently and do not allow so much of the smelly compounds to be excreted through the skin or the breath.
Discover our award winning formula Debloat & Detox today
Ashwagandha is a popular herb to help you keep calm and deal with stress. Stressful situations can trigger excessive sweating. When your body and mind is calm and relaxed, stressful situations become easier to manage and sweating will be reduced.
If you're looking to improve your body odour, there are many things you can do. From washing regularly, wearing natural fabrics, reducing stress and to the foods you are choosing.
Want to hear more from our nutritionists? Sign up to our newsletter for tips, advice and offers: